Commercial fishing is one of the key export industries in Monroe County/Florida Keys
accounting for between 5-8% of the total income or jobs in the local economy. Commercial fishing panels have
been monitored since 1998 for catch, spatial distribution of catch, and financial performance. Much of the
emphasis of monitoring has been on the socioeconomic impacts of marine zoning, including the impacts of
Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPAs) and Ecological Reserves (ERs), which are no-take areas. Monitoring also
includes knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of sanctuary management strategies and regulations.
In 1992, FMRI included a socioeconomic component to the survey, which gathered information on spending by
recreational spiny lobster fishermen and information on their willingness to pay for increases in catch
rates. In 2001, NOAA's National Ocean Service, Special Projects Office (SPO) joined with FMRI to replicate
the 1992 study. SPO entered a contract with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to provide a local group of
volunteers to assist with mailing and data entry for the survey.
This currently includes two major assessments of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve. The
first assessment was done by Thomas Murray and Associates through a MARFIN Grant from NOAA’s National
Marine Fisheries Service. The effort included year six of the commercial fishing panels with a pre-post
assessment of the socioeconomic impact of the Tortugas Ecological Reserve. The assessment compared the
original projected socioeconomic impacts by Leeworthy and Wiley (2000) with what actually occurred using a
survey of commercial fishermen in 2004-05 and the commercial fishing panel’s Tortugas Panel. In FY
2006, a second assessment was initiated by NOAA’s, National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal
Ocean Science (NCCOS). NCCOS conducted an integrated assessment with a team of over 20 physical scientists
and six social scientists. A five-year pre-post assessment was conducted. The effort included the commercial
fishing panel data, the Thomas Murray and Associates MARFIN Grant study and additional commercial fishing data
from the State of Florida’s “trip ticket” database. The NCCOS report will be completed and
posted on this site in FY 2009.
In 1995-96, a baseline study was conducted on the knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of the management
strategies and regulations being proposed for the FKNMS. The study was replicated in 2005-06. The study
addressed sources and usefulness of information; FKNMS processes in creating management strategies and
regulations; FKNMS zones; performance of FKNMS; support for FKNMS; and resource conditions in the FKNMS.
Since many management strategies have changed or are new since the 1995-96 study, new baselines were also
established. Detailed comparisons of socioeconomic profiles of commercial fishermen are also provided with
maps of catch by species group and region of the Florida Keys.