This year, the Symposium was held at the IGFA Hall of Fame and Museum in Dania Beach, FL on November 7th-8th, 2014. It brought scientists from around the world together to provide a forum for presenting their latest research. Much has been learned since the first Symposium in 2003. The goal is to present the latest findings, provide synthesis and consensus on appropriate scientific research approaches, and develop mechanisms to disseminate the knowledge that helps guide fisheries for Bonefish, Tarpon and Permit. To accomplish this goal, the Symposium’s objectives were to focus on a series of comparative synthesis sessions providing historical perspectives on fisheries and their status, facets of early life histories, recruitment, migration, and fishery exploitation effects. The Symposium brought together world-class experts to discuss issues in the fisheries management, such as scientific knowledge gaps and concerns of professional guides and anglers, and then focus on research necessary to support evolving conservation and management strategies.
BTT uses a Vertically Integrated Approach to research, conservation, and education. What does ‘vertically integrated’ mean? It means that BTT determines the status of knowledge and conservation threats for bonefish, tarpon, and permit, funds research to address issues of concern, and applies the research findings to conservation and education. In other words, BTT addresses issues from bottom to top. The steps are:
1. Identify knowledge gaps and conservation priorities. This is done using the Research Frameworks, which assess the status of knowledge for each species and rank funding priorities based on a combination of knowledge and threats.
2. Fund and conduct research to address these priorities. Funds are allocated based on priority rankings, and BTT works with scientific collaborators to ensure the research is funded and conducted.
3. Apply findings to conservation. Although it is important for the research findings to be published in the scientific literature to confirm their validity and to contribute to a better scientific knowledge of bonefish, tarpon, and permit, this is not enough. BTT uses research to inform natural resource management agencies so that their conservation strategies include the most relevant information.
4. Translate findings and conservation needs to layman’s terms. BTT undertakes considerable effort to translate research findings into laymen terms for education. Better informed anglers and guides make better stewards of the fisheries.
This focus, along with extensive help from sponsors like BOTE, partners, collaborators, and volunteers, has allowed BTT to make a strong impact with limited resources.
This year BOTE donated one of the original Bugslinger boards designed by Rob McAbee to help raise awareness and money for the preservation of the species. This years lucky winner was Warren Perry from Tampa.
Also in attendance was BOTE Ambassador John Meskauskas, who demonstrated his flyfishing skills on the new Rackham. Attendees were treated with a one hour Q&A with the master himself.