Simms joins Florida Keys Initiative, which seeks to protect, restore and conserve the Keys’ flats fishery through research and education.

A Florida Keys bonefish. Photo Credit: Dr. Ross Boucek

Simms Fishing Products, a leading manufacturer of fishing gear and apparel, has become a Silver Sponsor of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust’s Florida Keys Initiative, which seeks to protect, restore and conserve the Keys’ flats fishery through research and education.

“Simms aligns with grassroots organizations that really make a difference,” said Casey Sheahan, Simms’ CEO. “BTT’s track record of combining scientific research and angler outreach around critical issues elevates their status as leaders in the environmental world.”

Migrating tarpon in the Florida Keys. Photo Credit: Silver Kings

While the Florida Keys remains one of the world’s top destinations for flats fishing, its habitats and fisheries are threatened. The number of flats classified as “severely degraded” due to propeller scarring has increased 90 percent over the past 20 years. Water flowing into Florida Bay from the Florida Everglades has been reduced due to water mismanagement, and much of the water flowing into South Florida and the Keys is compromised by a slew of nutrients and contaminants. These changes, in turn, impact the habitats of the Florida Keys, which then affects the fisheries.

As BTT works to restore the Keys’ habitats and water quality, the organization has taken other steps to improve the future of the fishery: bonefish and tarpon are now catch and release only, and the Keys are managed as a Special Permit Zone with strict regulations to maintain a healthy permit population.

A Florida Keys permit. Photo Credit: Dr. Jake Brownscombe

BTT is also at work identifying bonefish spawning sites and juvenile nursery habitats for protection, while continuing to research tarpon movements and habitat use through the Tarpon Acoustic Tagging Project. The results will help shape future conservation measures, including the protection of critical habitats and improvements to fishing regulations.

BTT scientists use seine nets to sample an area in the Florida Keys for juvenile bonefish. Photo Credit: Fly Lords

“Since its founding in the Florida Keys more than 20 years ago, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust has made great strides in achieving conservation outcomes that benefit the Keys’ bonefish, tarpon, and permit fisheries,” said BTT President and CEO Jim McDuffie. “We’ve been fortunate to count Simms Fishing Products among our supporters and we’re thankful for the company’s generous sponsorship of the Florida Keys Initiative, which will ensure the health of the Keys’ fisheries for generations of anglers to come.”

Bonefish and Tarpon Trust works closely with us at Florida Sportsman as one of our Advisory Partners for Florida Sportsman Watermen.

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