Water-Related News

Cape Haze fishery conservation program wins NOAA grant

CHARLOTTE COUNTY – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration awarded a $114,058 grant to study the recreational fish nursery habitat within the Cape Haze peninsula in Charlotte County. The program is a partnership between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership and Charlotte County.

The funding is part of $2.3 million awarded by the NOAA RESTORE Science Program. The Charlotte County program, which began this month and will end in August 2022, is one of 20 to receive NOAA grants to research marine mammals, shorebirds, barrier islands, and fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico region. The money comes from the Gulf Coast Restoration Trust Fund, which was established by the RESTORE Act and receives funding from parties responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Cape Haze program will look at coastal ponds vulnerable to imminent human development. Recommendations on how to preserve and restore recreational fish nursery habitat will be made by 2028 through revisions of the county’s comprehensive planning policy, and guidance for state programs that address hydrologic connectivity.

The project team will convene state, local, and regional stakeholders to identify challenges to sport fish nursery habitat persistence, outline realistic management strategies, and plan research that informs management choices. Four meetings coordinated alongside the Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership will identify emergent threats and the research needed to understand potential impacts.