Florida Forage Fish Research Program (FFFRP)

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Forage fish like menhaden, pinfish, and mullet drive marine ecosystems by serving as a food source for larger fish, marine mammals, and coastal water birds. Science shows that forage fish can be vulnerable to environmental and fishing pressures, and when their populations decline, so can the health of their predators.

Despite the importance of these baitfish, fisheries research and management focuses on their predators and often ignores the forage fish species that serve as their food. In order to address this scientific shortfall, The Florida Forage Fish Coalition established the Florida Forage Fish Research Program (FFFRP). The FFFRP is a public-private partnership between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), leading academic institutions, non-governmental organizations, and you, designed to help Florida fill the knowledge gap and learn more about these important, little fish. Once a year, the program provides fellowships to graduate students to work hand-in-hand with FWRI to answer some of the most pressing questions regarding forage fish and their relationship to Florida’s marine habitats and predators.

The FFFRP is currently funding two projects in 2017:

  • University of South Florida graduate student is assessing the population dynamics of pinfish in the eastern Gulf of Mexico using new methods including a stable isotope analysis on the core of the eye lenses from pinfish collected in four estuaries on the west coast of Florida. This research will help us understand the reproductive behavior and distributions of spawning locations of pinfish – a key food source grouper and snapper rely on during their fall migrations from seagrass to offshore reefs.
  • University of Florida assistant professor seeks to identify potential forage fish populations whose abundance may limit recruitment of red drum and gag grouper, two of the most important species of fish to Florida anglers. This research will help us understand linkages among forage fish and popular Florida sportfish.

Now that the FFFRP is off to a good start, we need your help to keep it going! The International Game Fish Association's "School Up for Forage Fish" crowdfunding campaign is working to raise $15,000 by December 31, 2017 to fund a new FFFRP fellowship in 2018. Your contributions will help fund scientists as they work to answer important questions about Florida’s forage fish and support Florida Fish and Wildlife manager’s efforts to protect Florida’s legacy as the Fishing Capital of the World and a destination for scuba diving, birding, and seafood.

Join the school today! Make your tax-deductible contribution and tell your friends.