Permit Tagging

The goal of Costa’s Project Permit is for BTT to obtain information about permit movements and habitat use so we can improve conservation. Project Permit addresses these important questions:

Do permit act like bonefish and stay in relatively small home ranges, or regularly move longer distances?

Is the Special Permit Zone in the Florida Keys large enough to protect the fishery, or do Keys permit migrate north into unprotected areas where harvest levels are high?

Do individual permit go to the same location each time they spawn, or use multiple locations?

Can data on permit movement patterns be used to help guide spatial management zones in the upcoming Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary revised management plan?

Step 1- Dart Tags

We are using dart tags in an ongoing effort to better understand permit movement. So far, we have recaptured 18 fish, 17 of which were tagged and recaptured in the Florida Keys. One permit that was tagged in Biscayne Bay was captured and harvested over 60 miles north. Overall, it appears permit have relatively small home ranges. This project is ongoing, and you can email to request a tagging kit.

Step 2- Acoustic Tracking

In September 2015, BTT began a three-year project that will use acoustic tracking to determine permit movements in the Lower Keys. Small acoustic transmitters, each with a unique subsonic ping, will be surgically implanted in permit. The goal is to place transmitters in 30 permit in each year of the study.

The pings from the transmitters will be detected by an array of 60 receivers placed in the Lower Keys. If a permit swims in range of a receiver, it will be detected and recorded. If any of the permit are detected by scientific colleagues’ receivers in the Keys and along the coasts of Florida, they will be reported to us.

Background and Justification

1) Sufficient information is lacking on permit biology and fisheries in all locations where a fishery exists. Information to support management is urgently needed.

2) Threats to permit include loss and degradation of juvenile habitat, unknown impacts of harvest and catch and release, lack of protection for spawning grounds.

BTT Accomplishments

Worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to improve permit regulations, including implementation of a Special Permit Zone (SPZ) from Biscayne Bay south to protect permit from harvest during spawning season. The tagging work is ongoing and the information we are gathering will help us determine whether current regulations are sufficient to sustain the fishery in the long-term.

Please email if you would like to donate to this initiative or become a Corporate Sponsor.

Click here for more information on BTT’s permit research.