June 29, 2022
By Nick Roberts
Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT) and Costa Sunglasses have released a new film highlighting Project Permit, a more than decade-long permit conservation program funded by Costa, with support from the Lower Keys Fishing Guides Association and the March Merkin permit tournament. A Pathway for Permit tells the story of the collaborative efforts of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Costa, and fishing guides to conserve and protect the Florida Keys' iconic permit fishery, and provide the information resource managers need to better manage the fishery.
“Captured so perfectly in this film, whether catching your first or twentieth permit in the Keys, it’s incredibly memorable, and a feat many anglers spend years trying to achieve,” reflects Joe Gugino, Costa’s Conservation and Community Partnerships Manager. “The whole purpose of Project Permit, and why Costa continues to invest so heavily in conservation partners like BTT, is to guarantee these elusive species don’t become a tale of what was, but rather a thriving, healthy fishery for generations to come.”
The 12-minute film, narrated by angling legend Flip Pallot, features pioneering permit angler Captain Steve Huff and BTT scientist Dr. Ross Boucek, as well as renowned Keys permit guides Captain Will Benson and Captain Brandon Cyr. The film was produced by Dan Diez of Headwake Media.
Since its launch in 2011, Project Permit has provided valuable insights into permit movement and habitat, helping to ensure the conservation and protection of the species. Initially, Project Permit started as a way to determine if Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) creation of the Special Permit Zone (SPZ) in 2011 was providing effective management.
In 2015, the project expanded to focus on habitat use and spawning, which informed the 2018 expansion of the SPZ’s permit spawning season closure to include the month of April. Project Permit also identified Western Dry Rocks as the most important spawning site for flats permit in the Lower Keys, and project data informed FWC’s 2021 decision to establish a no-fishing closure at the site to protect vulnerable permit and other species during their spawning season.
“We thank our valued partner Costa for its longstanding support of Project Permit and its leadership in advocating for improved management of the Keys’ permit fishery,” said Jim McDuffie, BTT President and CEO. “We’re also indebted to the many guides who have shared their expertise and donated countless hours on the water to ensure the success of this vitally important project. Its many achievements are a testament to what can be accomplished for conservation when industry partners, the angling community, nonprofit organizations, and resource managers work together for the long-term benefit of our fisheries.”
For more information on Project Permit and Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, visit: www.btt.org