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955 -54BOARD OF CONSERVATION
C 2 STATE OF FLORIDA
FLORIDA STATE BOARD
R. A. Gray
. \ Secretary of State
J. Edwin Larson
Commissioner of Agriculture
Thomas D. Bailey
Supt. Public Instruction
Clarence M. Gay
Supervisor of Conservation
Table of Contents
General Review .... 6
The Seafood Industry 9
Arrest and Conviction Report 12
Sports Fishing .......... 13
Licenses .... 19
Oyster Division 23
Marine Research ... 30
Receipts and Disbursements 41
LORIDA STATE BOARD OF CONSERVATION
"Tc UtA.c EOODrooD ANSPONGCCE IOUStEa O* OLOOICAL SURV. DIV 1ON. OF WAT.R I c tARCH AND n.UnlV
TELEPHONE 2.405O W. V. KNOTT BUILDING TALLAHASSEE. FLORIDA
April 1, 1955
Honorable Leroy Collins
State of Florida
Dear Governor Collins:
We respectfully submit the Eleventh Biennial Report of the Siate
Board of Conservation covering the years 1353 and 1354. This Re-
port will reflect the progress made during Lhis period as well as ihe
need to intensify our efforts in marine conservation.
Much progress has been made in the Department's attack upon
many problems, but in order for the State Board of Conservaiion to
provide the effective leadership needed in the secfood industry,
both sports and commercial, it will be necessary to implement and
enlarge our present program.
Informing the public about salt water conservation.
The past biennium marked the development of a new era in the
conservation of salt water resources in Florida. Many old problems
have persisted, but definite progress has been made toward the
solution of many, and major steps have been taken that have im-
proved the administration of Florida's conservation program.
The 1953 Legislature, taking cognizance of the multiplicity and
confusion of laws relating to conservation, codified and modernized
the General Laws by enacting the new Conservation Code. This
has been most beneficial to the fishing industry and to conserva-
tionists alike, as well as greatly strengthening the understanding
of and enforcement of Conservation laws.
However, legal legislation was not the only important step taken
by the Legislature toward improving the conservation program.
The Legislature improved the financial position of the Board of
Conservation, which in turn enabled it to provide more effective
leadership, improved law enforcement program.
With this financial improvement, additional agents were em-
ployed, increasing the enforcement staff from thirty-six agents to
fifty agents. Special license inspectors were employed to lighten
the enforcement load of Conservation agents and to improve the
method of license collection. The average salary of Conservation
agents was increased from $165.00 per month to the more livable
wage of $225.00 per month, and additional enforcement equipment
was purchased. The effectiveness of these improvements are direct-
ly reflected in the report of the License Division and in the arrest and
For the first time in the history of the Board of Conservation, agents
were required to wear a regulation uniform. This consisted of a
grey shirt with trousers to match with a Department emblem and
a Department shoulder patch designated the wearer as an agent of
the State Board of Conservation. This uniform was worn with a
black tie and hat.
There is more activity in the field of Marine Biological Research
than ever before. During the biennium the sum of $195,492.50 was
made available for this work. The Marine Laboratory of the Uni-
versity of Miami was the primary agency conducting research on
behalf of the State Board of Conservation. Research was done, by
the Marine Laboratory, on the mullet fisheries, red snapper, fishing
gear, snook, shrimp, and the red tide. The Board of Conservation
made available $17,556.65 to the University of Florida for red tide
A considerable amount of basic data has been assembled, and
several important recommendations have been made as a result of
this research, but this work needs to be enlarged and intensified
in some areas. Shrimp, the most important seafood in terms of
,New equipment an important actor in an improved conservation program.
dollars, has been on the decline in production and in dollar value.
A practical solution of the red tide menace has not been found, and
until this problem has been solved, Florida's fishery population and
tourist industry are going to suffer accordingly.
The oldest and most persistent problem, the instability of the
seafood market is even more prevalent now than ever. The most
serious problem facing the entire industry is the uneven flow of
production, fluctuations in market price, and the necessity of de-
veloping new markets. The Marine Laboratory of the University
of Miami, in cooperation with the United States Fish and Wildlife
Service, is now in the process of surveying this problem. When this
survey is complete it will provide the background material for the
developing of a positive promotional program.
In order to create a clearer understanding of the need for a strong
salt water Conservation program, a concerted -effort was made to
inform the public of the need for conserving Florida's vast salt
water reseources. The Department created an educational exhibit
that appeared in fairs throughout the State. Several informative
pamphlets were published, regular news releases were sent out and
the Department was represented at boat shows, boat-a-cades, and
conservation meetings in every area of the State.
As a result of the activities of the Board of Conservation and na-
tural developments in the seafood industry, there is more evidence
of the need for, and greater interest in, developing an effective
Conservation program in the State of Florida.
IM111MM3 hi _
Commercial fishing -one of Florida's most valuable industries.
THE SEAFOOD INDUSTRY
During the year 1953 Florida fishermen produced and marketed
206,887,362 pounds of seafood. This catch was worth, to the fisher-
men, $31,523,056.00. These figures do not take into consideration
the untold pounds of fish caught, but not sold, by sportsmen.
In light of the above figures the enormous value of the seafood
industry to the basic economy of the State can easily be seen. But
when the total number of pounds produced in 1953 are compared
with the previous year's figures, a decrease of 50,000,000 pounds
is noted. This entire decrease can be accounted for in the produc-
tion of non-food fish, principle menhaden, which showed a decline
of 61,000,000 pounds from its peak year in 1952. Thus, there was an
increase of 11,000,000 pounds in food fish and shell fish production.
Shrimp continued to lead as the most valuable seafood to Florida.
58,471,431 pounds were produced valued at nearly $22,000,000.00.
The area showing the greatest increase was the Campeche shrimp
beds off the Mexico coast where shrimping activity was greatly
intensified. This area produced 32,000,000 pounds of shrimp as op-
posed to 21,000,000 pounds during the previous year. This accounts
for the entire gain in food fish and shell fish production during the
year. The Tortugas area off the Florida Keys actually showed a
decline. This drop was due largely to the decreasing availability
of shrimp in that area.
The mullet fishery increased its production slightly over 1952.
The catch of 27,317,616 pounds does not reflect any decrease in the
availability of mullet. There is little doubt that the production of the
fish could have been greatly increased if the market demand had
been greater. During certain periods of the year the price of mullet
dropped to the point where it was not economically feasible for fish-
ermen to produce them.
The closed season on the taking of mullet between the 10th day of
December and the 20th day of January is primarily an economic
measure. This law enables west Florida to produce a roe mullet
before the closed season and south Florida to produce a roe mullet
after the closed season is over. This measure also permits wholesale
seafood dealers to clear their stock of mullet after the heavy fall
Among the other major food fish in pounds produced were Span-
ish mackerel with 6,493,670 pounds. This species is produced on
both the east and west coast of the State. Red snapper which is
produced almost entirely on the west coast, ranked next with
5,538,345 pounds. The grouper and the spotted sea trout were next
in order among the food fish with 4,843,575 pounds and 3,669,887
Among the shell fish blue crabs and spiny lobster were by far
A bhat load of mullet a fine food fish.
ihe most productive. Blue crabs showed an increase over the pre-
vious years of about 1,000,000 pounds with 9,560,535 pounds being
reported. The east coast produced 2/3 of this total. The spiny lob-
ster, a product of the lower east coast and the Keys area improved
slightly, but was still below normal with 1,995,411 pounds produced.
The red tide on the west coast and the over harvesting of some
species of fish may have contributed to the decline in production in
some areas of the seafood industry. But the primary reason for the
general instability of the seafood industry in Florida is the methods
of production and the lack of a coordinated marketing effort. Florida
seafoods have not been successfully competing, price wise, with
northern filets and pre-packaged seafoods. Some of the markets
have been lost to this competition and Florida seafoods stand to
lose even more ground unless more efficient and economical meth-
ods of production are developed and unless new markets are
created through an effective advertising program.
ARREST AND CONVICTION REPORT
County Arrests Ccnvictions Pending
Brevard 23 21
broward -.---. ... ...... iu 10
Duval -.-... 14 9 2
Franklin .. 3 1
Hillsborough .. 1 1
Lee --...... 8 8
Levy --- -- 3 3
Manatee 1 1
Monroe .---..-.. ...... 3 3
Uaaloosa .. .. 1 1
Palm Beach ...16 10
St. Johns .. 1 1
Volusia ........ .. .- 21 19
113 94 2
ARREST AND CONVICTION REPORT
County Arrests Convictions Pending
Alachua 3 3
Brevard .-- .. 17 17
Citrus ..----- .... ...- ---- 1 1
Collier --- .. ...-------.-. -- 3 2
Dade ..------..... .. .---- --. 1 1
Dixie .. ------ -... .. 4 4
Duval ..--- -- ---.. --.---- 3 1 2
Franklin --- --- 6 5 1
Hillsborough .... 5 4 1
Indian River .- -- 1 1
Lee --- 7 7
Levy 3 3
Martin G 6
Monroe 19 19
Nassau ......- 2 2
Palm Beach 23 21
Pinellas 4. 4
Sarasota .- 5 2
St. Johns ... 7 7
St. Lucie... 1 1
Taylor ... .... 3 2
Volusia ..1 1
Wakulla 4.. 4
129 118 6
Tarpon the king of sports fishing.
Florida-the sports fishing capitol of the world-with its vast
variety of fishing, continued to be a mecca for sports fishing enthu-
astics. Over 3,000,000 tourists visited Florida each year during the
biennium and new residents were attracted at the rate of 3,200
persons per week. The primary reason for this great migration is
the alluring sub-tropical climate and the desire to catch a bonefish
on a fly rod, the thrill of landing a fighting silver king tarpon or the
desire to just relax cane pole fishing from one of Florida's numerous
Surf fishing at its best.
Florida waters are the natural habitant for an unusually large
variety of game fish. The snook, primarily a South Florida vcr'ery,
will test an" angler's skill. The sheephead is the favorite of many
because of the difficulty in hooking them. Spanish mackerel is also
popular because he strikes at most any lure. These are only a
few of the almost endless offering of salt water fishing in Florida.
Never before have so many people enjoyed the thrill of fishing in
the salt waters of our State. Fishing for sport-for food-for healPh.
Many people in Florida, among them active sports fishermen,
are in favor of a small nominal charge for a salt water fishing
license. They cihe the fact that many other states have such a
license, including California, and that the money is badly needed
in order to support a sound Department of Conservation. The op-
ponents of a salt water fishing license maintain that a completely
free fishing situation is just one more added inducement for people
to come to Florida in search of piscatorial excitement and that no
impediment, no matter how small, should be put in the way of the
It is anticipated that this issue will be brought more and more
before the public in future years.
Since 1950 the Marine Laboratory of the Univeraily of Miami has
collected the fishery landing statistics for the Board o Conservation,
in cooperation with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In that year
the system was changed from a yearly to a monthly report. Land-
ings are reported by species, by county, in the publication FLORIDA
LANDINGS and yearly summaries are also issued.
Shrimp worth $21,389,490 to Florida Fisherman last year.
SUMMARY OF FLORIDA COMMERCIAL MARINE FISH
LANDINGS FOR 1953
Goatfish .....-- .. .......
Hickory Shad ---.
Jacks (common) ..
Kingfish (whiting -
Mullet (black) -
Sea Trout (grey)
Sea Trout (spotted)
Sea Trout (white)
Snapper (mutton) ----
No. of Lbs.
FLORIDA COMMERCIAL MARINE FISH
LANDINGS FOR 1953
FOOD FISH TOTAL -..
sh) ......... 508,752
OOD FISH 70,413,239
Clams, hard (meats)
Lobsters, Spiny .....
Oysters, (meats) --..----.-
Shrimp (heads on):
Upper West Coast
Squid --... -.--.
TOTAL SHELLFISH ---
GRAND TOTAL --
--- 1,995,411 399,082
---.. --- 71,028,659
No. of Lbs.
SUMMARY OF MARINE FISH LANDINGS BY COUNTIES 1953
Non-Food Shellfish, Etc.
Bay and Gulf
$-A Indian River
Okaloosa and Walton _
Pasco and Hernando
163,382 297,416 5,246,182
593,265 1,685,505 6,650,668
333,542 434,285 4,552,631
70,645 229,977 3,976,230
2,848,771 1,584,917 5,194,720
16,259 405,298 4,980,440
2,027,130 2,352,913 12,104,128
12,179 18,189,973 20,240,793
1,207,578 17,933,838 23,518,548
593,956 12,746,360 14,815,604
1,160,953 1,220,348 67,852,473
.. 4,884 3,767,017
35,544 213,800 4,793,432
4,237 .572,820 619,?58
136,493 348,585 2,782,744
525,520 255,396 1,334,982
12,557,228 58,471,431 206,887,362
A total of 2,952 pleasure boats licensed 1953-54.
During the 1953-54 biennium the State Board of Conservation ex-
perienced a real challenge in its license program. Administrative
officials of the Department felt that a definite change in procedure
was needed, and that a separate and distinct program of licensing
should be established.
With this in mind, the Division of Licenses was created. Five per-
sons were employed as license inspectors to do only license work.
Under this system it allowed all other Conservation officers to de-
vote their full time to law enforcement. Previously field representa-
tives had spent a great deal of their time in collecting licenses.
Agents would contact individuals who were required to have a
license, taking a great deal of the agents' time. As the program is
now set up, each person who has been previously licensed by this
Department is sent an application blank for the type license needed.
This eliminated the necessity of a personal call and has resulted in
a great savings of time and money to the State.
Under this program a completely new accounting and book-
keeping system was inaugurated. Licenses issued include whole-
sale seafood dealers, retail seafood dealers, commercial boat licen-
ses, pleasure boat licenses, commercial fishing licenses, sponge
boat licenses, and an assortment of other miscellaneous licenses.
Under the present bookkeeping system licenses of all types can be
identified by the name of the holder, or by the county in which the
holder resides, or by the type license a person holds.
All field representatives of the Department are furnished with
application blanks for individuals to use in securing their licenses,
along with instructions to assist all persons needing information
and help in filling out the application blanks. This information is
passed on to the Tallahassee office by way of detaching a perfo-
rated portion of the application. After a period of two weeks, if the
application has not been received, the agent is notified and he will
again contact the individual and require him to secure this proper
license. This method of assisting applicants and notifying the cen-
tral office has been very effective.
The 1953 Florida legislature changed the effective date of licenses
from October 1 to June 1. This change was made to coincide with
the State's fiscal year. In the license program effective date of
licenses by legislative act was the primary change.
Some 16,000 boats have been licensed each year during this
biennium as compared with approximately 9,003 the highest pre-
The 1953-54 licenses brought in a total of $188,164.90 as compared
to $120,733.99 in the 1952-53 license year.
It is felt by the Department that the increase of $67,430.91 was
brought about through the efforts of its personnel in informing the
general public that salt water licenses were required. This informa-
tion was brought to the attention of the public through newspaper
releases, radio and television appearances, and visits with conser-
The License Division furnishes annually to interested persons
upon their request a list of all wholesale and retail seafood dealers,
and a list of all boats licensed under this Department.
On the following page there is a schedule showing the amounts
of money and the sources from which it was derived for each of the
two years of this biennium.
JULY 1, 1952 JUNE 30, 1953
Wholesale Fish Dealers Licenses -___ $ 35,350.00
Retail Fish Dealers Licenses $ 37,630.00
Commercial Fish & Oyster Boat Licenses $ 18,581.20
Alien or Non-Resident Commercial Boat Licenses $----- $ 2,410.00
Alien or Non-Resident Commercial Fishing Licenses ..---- $ 3,525.00
Excess Nets Tax $ 284.00
Permit Tags $ 8,452.50
Shrimp Boat Licenses $ 7,263.50
Alien or Non-Resident Shrimp Boat Licenses ------- $ 75.00
Resident Sponge Boat Licenses $ 209.35
Alien or Non-Resident Sponge Boat Licenses ------ $ 56.40
Resident Fishing Boat Licenses $ 5,493.15
Alien or Non-Resident Pleasure Fishing Boat Licenses -_ $ 6,945.00
Menhaden Boat Licenses $ 315.70
Alien Menhaden Fishing Licenses $ 275.00
Alien or Non-Resident $ 25.00
JULY 1, 1953 JUNE 30, 1954
Non-Resident Wholesale Dealers Licenses $
Wholesale Fish Dealers Licenses ---- $
Retail Fish Dealers Licenses $
Non-Resident Retail Fish Dealers Licenses -_...---- .------- $
Commercial Fish & Oyster Boat Licenses $
Alien or Non-Resident Commercial Boat Licenses ------ $
Alien or Non-Resident Commercial Fishing Licenses $.. $
Excess Net Tax $
Permit Tags and Stamps $
Shrimp Boat Licenses $
Alien or Non-Resident Shrimp Boat Licenses $
Alien or Non-Resident Sponge Boat Licenses ------$
Resident Pleasure Fishing Boat Licenses $
Alien or Non-Resident Pleasure Boats $
Menhaden Boat Licenses $
Alien or Non-Resident Boat Licenses -$
Purse Seines Tax $
Tax on Sponge Boats using Hooks $
Tax on other Boats used in Sponge Industry $
Resident Sponge Boat Licenses $
Spreading oyster shell on bay bottoms provides attachment
places for baby oysters.
Most of the basic research on Florida's oyster was completed
during 1953. These investigations had been in progress since Feb-
ruary, 1949. Results of the studies were published in scientific jour-
nals and were summarized in several popular pamphlets brought
out by the State Board of Conservation (see Tenth Biennial Report
issued Spring, 1953).
Findings of the previous studies were applied to local problems
over the State during 1953 and 1954.
The Oyster Division continued to check prospective leases and
to advise all lease holders on scientific methods of oyster farming.
In addition, the division had responsibility for the enforcement of
all laws pertaining to oysters and supplemented the efforts of the
State Board of Conservation in some areas on other law enforce-
A close check is made frequently to insure that Florida oysters maintain
high standards of quality and purity.
During the biennium, the division carried out rehabilitation pro-
jects in Apalachicola Bay, Cedar Key, Crystal River, and the coast-
al waters of Wakulla County.
In Apalachicola Bay dredged oyster shell was placed in the water
as cultch during 1953 as follows:
April, May and June: 204 yards at Nine Mile
July, August and September: 500 yards at Nine Mile
In 1954, plantings of oysters and shell were made in Apalachicola
Bay as follows:
May-Paradise Flat (Oysters)
W.P.A. Bar (Oysters)
State Lease No. 1 (Oysters)
June-Paradise Flat (Oysters)
W.P.A. Bar (Oysters)
State Lease No. 3 (Coon Oysters)
State Lease No. 5 (Oyster Shell) .__.
July-Paradise Flat (Oysters)
Paradise Flat (Oyster Shell)
W.P.A. Bar (Oysters)
Godley's Bluff (Oysters)
-.--..._.- -- 1010
During 1953 and 1954 projects were started in Cedar Key and
Wakulla County in an effort to improve the quality of oysters norm-
ally found on coon reefs. The reefs were raked and all oysters
which normally were exposed during low tides were placed in
deeper water where they would be covered by water at all times.
Growth and quality of the oysters thus moved were noticeably im-
Greatly enlarged drawing of
causative organism of
THE RED TIDE
Red Tides are fairly common over many of the coastal regions of
the world. They occur off California, Peru, India, Japan and Puerto
Rico, to name only a few places.
In all cases they are caused by a one celled animal which
scientists have called DINOFLAGELLATES. There are many different
species of dinoflagellatea and, in most cases, Red Tides in different
parts of the world are caused by separate species.
Microscopic in size, these tiny animals may exist in coastal
waters and not be noticed. Then, for reasons not completely under-
stood at present, they may suddenly begin to reproduce in enor-
mous numbers. When they do, they sometimes reach concentra-
tions of 60,000,000 per quart of sea water. This condition is referred
to as a "bloom" and the immense numbers color the water a rusty
red color-hence the name Red Tide.
Some of the Red Tides of the world have the power to kill fish.
Under some conditions Florida's Tide is one of these. Also, under
certain special conditions, the Florida variety produces a slightly
irritating gas. The effects of the gas are very temporary and are
restricted to narraw edges of beaches when the wind blows from
WHAT IS BEING DONE ABOUT RED TIDE?
Although past records are sketchy, there seems to have been
about fifteen or more Red Tides on Florida's west coast since 1844.
The first recent Red Tide appeared in November, 1946, on the
Gulf Coast of Southern Florida, near Naples, when fishermen re-
ported large numbers of dead and dying fish floating in the vicinity
and about 10 miles offshore. The death of fish increased and the
Red Tide moved northward until by the end of January, 1947, the
bays and beaches of Fort Myers, Sanibel Island and neighboring
areas were strewn with millions of dead fish. The problem of dis-
posal was a serious one.
No State or Federal funds were available for an investigation of
the Red Tide but at the request of the Director of the Florida State
Board of Conservation and of numerous persons in the affected
area a team of scientists proceeded from the University of Miami
Marine Laboratory to the Gulf Coast of Florida. They were able to
determine the cause of the mortality of fishes during the month of
January. Biological samples which were used in identifying the
immediate cause of the Red Tide and reports on the investigations
were made available to the State and Federal agencies concerned.
One Miami worker, studying samples of the Red Tide water, de-
finitely identified the causative animal. It was new to science and
a full description was provided in the BOTANICAL GAZETTE in
1948 by the discoverer, Dr. Charles C. Davis. The name of the organ-
ism, GYMNODINIUM BREVIS, has by now become common place.
The organism was publicly displayed for the first time for convention
delegates at the 1949 Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute in
Later, working with funds provided by the State Board of Con-
servation, the Miami Marine Laboratory staff assigned to Red Tide
work, began exploring the possibility of growing the Tide in the
laboratory. Most culture work was done in Sarasota in cooperation
with the Fish and Wildlife Service. Due to an apparent scarcity of
G. BREVIS, was forced to perfect i's technique on a closely re-
lated species, GYMNODINIUM SIMPLEX, but as a result of this in-
vestigation, much ground work was laid for the eventual produc-
tion of Red Tide in the laboratory.
In 1952 another outbreak of Red Tide occurred, at which time ad-
ditional studies were made of the chemistry and physical condi-
tions of the water in the general crea of comtaminaion. This
work was summarized in a noteworthy paper dealing with the
currents and water masses associated with the Tide. As a
result of work done during this outbreak several theories concern-
ing Red Tides were considered invalid and much valuable time
was saved by the elimination of such bliad alleys.
Although the next large outbreak did not occur un'il the fall
of 1953, the promising leads provided by earlier studies were being
followed up by several people at the University of Miami who felt
that if the Tide struck again, techniques and information would
be needed for full scale investigations.
Consequently, when an outbreak did occur late in 1953, the
knowledge gained through the years paid off. In February, 1954,
a research vessel was sent by the Miami laboratory to Fort Myers
to continue other lines of investigation. A complete survey ot the
waters off south western Florida was made at that time.
During the survey, data was obtained on water temperature, sali-
nity, currents, and presence of various fertilizers in the water (e. g.,
phosphates, nitrates, and dissolved organic materials). Frequenf
sampling of the water was made to determine the abundance of the
causative organism, G. BREVIS.
Interested citizens formed beach networks during the early part
of 1954. Through these volunteer services rapid reports of small
outbreaks were quickly available, scientists were alerted, and
prompt chemical checks of the area was possible.
Volunteer citizens, particularly power squadrons, also made pos-
sible two giant hydrographic studies that would have otherwise
not been possible with State funds then available. Called "Opera-
tions Driftcard" these surveys revealed valuable information con-
cerning currents and winds and the interactions of the two forces.
In the first operation approximately 35 boats put to sea from
various points between Ft. Myers and St. Petersburg. Proceeding
directly west into the Gulf of Mexico the boats dropped self address-
ed, stamped postcards, encased in plastic. In the second, driftcards
were dropped from a Coast Guard airplane. Later, as these cards
were found, at sea and on the shore, the place and date of finding
were entered and they were mailed to the Miami Marine Laboratory
where their pattern of drift was estimated and evaluated.
Using driftcard information and other oceanographic techniques,
it was determined among other things that two giant circular eddies
exist in the Red Tide area. These currents will receive more at-
In general, it has been indicated that Red Tides are more apt to
occur during periods of high rainfall. A complete history of Red
Tide outbreaks and the sequence of events within each are being
prepared. These will be of great help in evaluating field data.
The University of Florida has been sampling the waters of the
Red Tide area for over a year to determine relative abundance of
the causative organism at different times and places. A report on
these studies will be forthcoming.
In addition to State sponsored research, the Federal Government
through the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is also engaged in an
intensive study of the problem.
Detailed information on the research of the the University of Mia-
mi for the first six months of 1954 has been compiled and published
in a technical report to the State Board of Conservation.
A similar report is in preparation covering the second half of 1954.
(For those desiring additional information, the State Board of Con-
servation has prepared a revision of its Educational Bulletin Num-
ber One, THE RED TIDE. This pamphlet is available free, upon re-
Frequent sampling of inshore waters gives valuable
information on Florida's fish.
Research on the mullet fishery was one of the earliest projects
undertaken by The Marine Laboratory for the Board of Conserva-
tion. This was because mullet was the principal foodfish produced
in Florida, and because it was apparently depleted. The study is
continuing, although the problems have changed. Mullet is still the
principal foodfish but depletion is not a concern, except possibly
in isolated regions, and the fishery now suffers from inability to
market the catch. As a consequence of this change in need, the em-
phasis during the latter part of the last biennium shifted to market-
This shift in emphasis has not meant that the biological studies
have ceased, however, and this work has continued principally on
the lower west coast and on the east coast of Florida. These are
the last areas of the state to receive intensive study and this follows
the plan set up when the work started. It is felt that the biological
information is still vital, since improvement in markets will almost
certainly put a strain on the resource at some future date.
Tagging has revealed valuable information on migrations and
mortality rates. Earlier work has been confirmed that mullet on the
west coast usually do not move more than about 25 miles, even
after a year. On the east coast migrations are longer, and move-
ments of 50 miles or more are not unusual. High rates of tag re-
turns (20-25%) and rapid disappearance of tagged fish suggests a
heavy fishery and a high rate of natural mortality. Tagging has also
shown the importance of the fresh water phase of the mullet life
history. Rapid growth seems to take place in fresh water.
Growth rates of mullet are different in different areas of the state,
being faster in the southerly portions. Not many mullet seem to live
past their 4th or 5th year, and most commercially caught fish are
in their 3rd year. In the Homassa area, for example, a three year
old fish averages 121/2 inches long and not quite a pound in weight.
The peak of spawning varies over the coast, on the west coast
being earliest off Pensacola (November) and latest off Naples (Jan-
uary). On the east coast, spawning takes place in December and
January. This difference makes it difficult to set proper closed sea-
sons. For this and other varied reasons, it has been suggested to
abolish closed seasons. So far this has not been done, because of
the fear of adverse economic repercussions.
Other biological facts, such as size at maturity, sex rates, etc.,
have been discovered and reported at various times. Regulations
have been suggested as a result of these studies.
Severe marketing problems in the finfish industry have made a
major shift necessary in the emphasis on the type of fisheries re-
search done for the state.
After some preliminary work in 1953, a scientist was put on mar-
keiing research full time in 1954. It soon become apparent that more
help was needed on this pressing problem, and funds were sought
and obtained from the federal government to support additional
work. A contract with the Fish and Wildlife Service now enables
an intensive study of marketing problems of Florida's fisheries,
particularly in regard to mullet.
The difficulties encountered in marketing mullet are due to fail-
ure of the industry to keep pace with technological advances in
fishing methods, processing methods and distribution methods. Mul-
let are forced to compete with cheaper northern species which are
processed in attractive and convenient forms. There is still a de-
mand for mullet in the round, however, and increased sales here
will be in response to better quality fish.
About 9n'. of Florida's mullet production is sold outside the state,
mostly in nearby states. Attempts will be made to increase con-
sumption here, and to find new markets outside this area. Research
is going forward on frozen mullet, in the form of fish sticks and
fillets, canned mullet and smoked mullet. The possibility of deve-
loping more efficient methods of catching mullet is being consider-
One of the sport fish investigations of long standing is the study
of the sailfish. This started out some years ago as a tagging pro-
gram exclusively, and while this part of the study is still the most
important, valuable information on the early life history of sailfish,
on the food of this species and other aspects of its life history have
Four different types of tags have been tried on sailfish, which is
difficult to tag because of its large size and its strength. The latest
type is a dart tag, developed by Mr. Frank Mather of the Fish and
Wildlife Service. It appears, from field trials, to be very promising
and as soon as larger numbers can be produced these tags will
probably be employed exclusively.
Landing the always game sailfish.
The early life history of the sailfish was described in a technical
paper during the biennium and non-technical summaries of the
progress of research were produced in a series of Sailfish News-
letters. All of these are available upon request.
Several groups of charterboat captains and sport groups were
assisted in their tagging and conservation programs on sailfish.
For example, the Marine Laboratory supplied tags for the Boynton
Beach and Delray Beach Sailfish Tournaments, on behalf of the
State Board of Conservation.
An extensive study of the red snapper industry was completed
during the biennium. Results have been published as a Tech-
nical Report of the State Board of Conservation.
At least seven species of fish are caught and marketed as red
snappers, including the "true" red snapper, LUTJANUS AYA, which
itself may really be two species. The gear has undergone consi-
derable change in recent years, mostly as a result of the employ-
ment of mechanical and -electric reels. Deeper water can now be
A much clearer understanding of the biology of the species is
now available, with information now at hand on its food, length-
weight relationship, size at maturity, sex ratios, etc. More important,
much new data have been gathered and analyzed on the changes
in abundance, and on depletion. Red snappers seem to be over-
fished, and improvements in fishing gear makes it appear that a
danger of further depletion may take place.
In order to exploit more distant grounds the fleet will have to
undergo extensive changes, which do not appear likely to be made
in the immediate future. Abundance changes in this fishery should
be carefully watched. Since Mexico and Cuba are also engaged
in this fishery, an international commission might be required to
handle its management properly.
Work on gear included further experiments using a small depth
recorder to locate schools of fish, principally mackerel. It was shown
that this device could be useful for both sport and commercial fish-
ing, and small depth recorders are now in use on small boats.
Extensive tests were made to show that a Chesapeake Bay type
dredge could be successfully used to catch blue crabs. This gear
is now in use on the West Coast of Florida as a result of these ex-
periments and its use is expected to increase.
Another gear development in the crab fishery has been the in-
troduction of the Virginia crab fyke net. This gear was introduced
by the Marine Laboratory and is in use in the Peace River area.
A careful study of bait shrimp gears was made on the middle
east coast, in connection with a larger bait shrimp study. Recom-
mendations concerning the use of these gears were made.
The most important activity in gear research was a careful ob-
servation of all kinds of commercial fishing gear in the state. A re-
port has been issued with full descriptions of these gears and the
fishing methods, with many illustrations. This will serve as a basis
for further gear development and for regulations on fishing gears.
PLANKTON FISH STUDIES:
Basic information on early life history of important marine fishes,
necessary for proper conservation, has been collected by the Mar-
ine Laboratory by two teams of scientists. In one case the main
financial support for this project was derived from outside funds,
namely the Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Georgia. This
was in connection with the South Atlantic Offshore Fisheries Inves-
tigation in which Georgia, Florida and the Federal Government co-
operated. An important paper by the Florida biologist on swordfish
resulted from this work, and other cooperative reports will be forth-
The other group working on larval fish important to Florida is
supported entirely by the National Geographic Society and other
Another sport fish project has been an investigation of the snook
fishery. This is an example of a study done for the state and sup-
ported mostly by outside funds. In this case the National Research
Council is the supporting agency.
Concern has centered around such points as (1) ascertaining pro-
duction figures on an annual and area (largely county) basis; (2)
description of the gear and methods employed by commercial fish-
ermen to capture snook; (3) the relative importance of snook to fish-
ermen and dealers on an annual, seasonal, and regional basis; (4)
assessment of the percentages of the total commercial production
results from sport and commercial activities; and (5) percentage oc-
currence of the three species in the commercially handled snook.
Certain features of the biology of the dominant species, CENTRO-
POMUS UNDECIMALIS, have been ascertained. Among these are
the time and duration of the spawning season, the first size at ma-
turity and the food habits of the snook. Attempts to describe fecun-
dity of the species are to be made. Distribution of the species in the
Marine, brackish and fresh waters of the peninsula has been ex-
amined at great detail. A determination of the ratio of sexes occur-
ring in commercial and sport fishing samples has been made, and
lesser particulars of biology, such as length to weight ratios, cbnor-
malities of the fish, and parasites infesting the species, have been
established. It is expected, as a result of these studies, to be able to
make recommendations as to whether this species should be de-
clared a sport fish and as to what regulations are required on the
EMERGENCY AND SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS:
The Marine Laboratory is called to make certain emergency and
special investigations on behalf of the State Board of Conservation.
During the past biennium these included such things as an investi-
gation of fish mortalities in the Broward River. This was found to be
recurrent, and to be the result of pollution. Several applications for
permits for marine aquaria were considered, including an examina-
tion of the proposed sites.
The Laboratory has the responsibility of safeguarding the fishery
resources during seismic oil explorations. This is done by having
observers on the boat, who have the authority to stop the operation
if harm is being done.
INFORMATION AND EDUCATION:
Information on the results of research, both by the Marine Labo-
ratory of the University of Miami and by other fishery research
organizations, is made available through several series of Board
of Conservation publications, including the Educational Series,
Technical Series and Special Service Bulletins. Quarterly Reports
on Fisheries Research are issued to the industry and other interest-
ed persons and the Sailfish Newsletters have been published since
1952. Commercial Fisheries Newsletters were first issued late in the
past biennium. The newspaper and radio station series, Sea Secrets,
which answers questions about the sea, is issued free to a large
number of subscribers by the Board of Conservation.
In addition to these regular services, very large numbers of Tele-
phone, personal and written enquiries on Florida marine resources
are answered every month. Television and radio appearances also
bring the public attention to this aspect of the State's economy.
Staff members of the Marine Laboratory continue to act as tech-
Department exhibit shown throughout the state.
nical advisors to the State Board of Conservation at meetings of
the Atlantic States and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commissions.
The shrimp fishery has for several years been the most import-
ant phase of the seafood industry of Florida, and in the past two
years has reached a position of overwhelming dominance. As illus-
tration of this, the Florida landings of shrimp in 1953 (this is the last
year for which complete records are available) were 58,471,431
pounds; in 1954 shrimp landings are estimated to be 15% higher.
This total is compared with 22,901,721 pounds only five years ago,
in 1950. The value of the shrimp industry in 1953 was $21,389,490,
68% of the value of seafood products in Florida.
Beacuse of the great importance of the shrimp industry, a con-
siderable portion of the research effort of The Marine Laboratory, for
the State Board of Conservation, has been on shrimp, and a separate
appropriation was made by the Legislature for this purpose.
Proper regulation of the Florida shrimp fishery depends primarily
on careful and detailed statistical information. The Marine Labora-
tory began collecting detailed catch per boat data on the Key West
fishery in 1954, and is cooperating with the greatly expanded shrimp
statistics program of the Fish and Wildlife Service, The headquart-
ers of this program for the southeastern states is in one of the Mar-
ine Laboratory buildings.
The Marine Laboratory assisted in the designing and carrying
out of three exploratory shrimp fishing projects during the biennium.
Two of these were in Cuban waters (financed privately) and the
other was on the west coast of Florida, financed by the shrimp in-
dustry, with the State Board of Conservation supplying the services
of the scientists.
The Cuban trials showed no sizeable shrimp population, and the
Florida fishing was also largely unproductive, largely because of
the rough nature of the bottom. However, one small bed of shrimp
was discovered at 200 07' North and 83 10' West. This bed sub-
sequently yielded commercial catches of shrimp. An interesting by-
product of this work was the discovery of a scallop bed of commer-
cial size at 29 05' North and 85 25' West.
The Florida live shrimp bait industry is larger than is generally
supposed. This was one result which was apparent from the survey
of the northeast coast, live bait shrimp industry which was carried
out in 1953. The fishery was shown to be worth nearly $700,000 in
that year, and to employ about 1300 people.
Besides studying the economic importance of the industry, this
survey described gear and transportation methods, and determined
the species of shrimp caught. It clarified several controversial ques-
tions concerning life histories of the shrimp and the supposed harm-
ful effect of certain gears, chiefly the pushnet. It concluded that
there was no justification, in terms of economics or conservation,
for outlawing this gear.
REACTION TO ELECTRICAL CURRENTS:
The high interest in German experiments with electrical fishing in
the sea, combined with the possibility of the existence of sizeable
shrimp stocks in areas which cannot be fished by conventional
gears, led to experiments on the reaction of shrimp to electrical
currents. The first step has been to establish the fact that shrimp,
like fish, can be forced to swim to the positive pole in an electrical
field. Then the optimum conditions of current density, "on-off" ratio
and frequency were determined. At present the electrical require-
ments are such that practical trials would be too expensive, let
alone commercial applications of the principle, but by certain adap-
tions of the method it may be feasible to develop an apparatus
which will allow field trials to be run.
Most of the emphasis in the shrimp research was placed on the
practical problems of handling, on board the vessels, and in the
freezer and other processing plants. These problems have become
acute in recent years, with shrimp vessels fishing so much farther
from port, with a resultant delay in landing the catch.
The experiments were continued with refrigerated seawater as
a substituted for ice to chill shrimp aboard fishing vessels. Excell-
ent results were obtained particularly when dilute concentrations
of aureomycin were used to eliminate a characteristic odor which
developed otherwise. Permission to use this antibiotic is now await-
ed from the Food and Drug Administration.
Extensive experiments were also conducted using aureomycin
in a weak solution as a dip and frozen into ice in which shrimp
were stored. It was found that shrimp dipped soon after they were
caught held their freshness in ice storage for four to six days longer
than untreated shrimp. Shrimp in aureomycin ice were also improv-
ed in quality. Again, Food and Drug Administration approval is
Experiments on ice particle size showed that the smaller the par-
ticle, the better the quality of the shrimp, provided air spaces were
avoided around the stored shrimp.
A basic study of the spoilage of shrimp was conducted, and work
done to develop a reliable, objective test for freshness. Use of ultra-
violet light shows some promise in this connection.
Considerable emphasis was placed on methods of reducing
black spotting of shrimp. The seawater method of chilling proved
completely effective in eliminating black spot, while careful icing
(using finely ground ice) materially reduced it. Chemical treatment,
particularly with dilute solutions of sodium bisulfite were also shown
to be effective.
NON STATE-SUPPORTED FISHERY RESEARCH:
Besides the work financed by the State, through the Eoard of
Conservation, there is a considerable amount of fishery research
being carried on by the Marine Laboratory which is financed by
other agencies and individuals.
Some of this additional financial help is used to enlarge and assist
in projects under way for the state. For example, the shrimp ex-
periments have had substantial support from the Shrimp Associa-
tion of the Americas, an important international trade association,
and from the Lederle Laboratori3s of the American Cyanamid Com-
pany. Other state research partially supported by other agencies
include statistics, snapper, marketing, live bait fishery, exploration,
fish life histories, snook investigation and others.
Other projects important to the state fisheries are supported en-
tirely by agencies other than the Board of Conservation. These
include the greatly enlarged sport fish research, both on the bluefin
tuna and the large bill fishes. Work has been authorized on a tar-
pon investigation, to be financed privately. Fundamental studies
on the Gulfstream, on plankton and on instrument development are
supported by the U. S. Navy Gear Development. Underwater tele-
vision and the location of fishes by sound are supported by the Fish
and Wildlife Service. The effect of fresh water outflows from Lake
Okeechobee on the coastal fisheries were studied on a grant from
the Army Engineers. The Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute,
supported by the University of Miami and the fishing industry,
serves to stimulate practical research on the fisheries of Florida and
to spread information on results and plans for future work.
Excess Nets Tax
Licenses and Permits:
Fish Dealers' Licenses 111 935.C0
Boat Licenses -- 60,214.90
Fishing Licenses 5,025.00
Purse Sein Licenses 4 25.00
Total Licenses & Permits .....--.
Use of Property:
Sale of Seafood Shipping
Tags & Stamps
Other Revenue Receipts:
Sale of Confiscated Materials ......---..-
Arrest Fees and Mileage ----------.... -----
Total Other Revenue Receipts ...-
Returned Checks Re-Deposited .----
Refunded Prior Years Expenditures
Total Non-Revenue Receipts ..-
Remittances: Gen. Revenue Fund --......- 193,971.78
Licenses & Permits
Use of Property
Other Revenue Receipts -............
Total Revenue Receipts ....--------
Non-Revenue Receipts -.........-..
Salaries and Wages .--.-.. ..
Professional Fees and Consultant Services _-
Total Personal Services -...... -------....
Advertising Florida's Commodities
Resources and Attractions
Communication and Transportation
of Things -........... ----.. -
General Printing and Reproduction
Services -.---- -.- ......-...--- ---
Repairs and Maintenance -.......----- ......--
Subsistence, Care and support of Persons -.-
Travel ..... ...... --- ----.
Other Contractual Services
Total Contractual Services
Materials and Supplies
Coal, Fuel Oil, and Other Heating Supplies
Educational, Medical, Scientific and
Agricultural Materials and Supplies _
Motor Fuels and Lubricants
Office Materials and Supplies .......-- ...-
Other Materials and Supplies
Total Materials and Supplies ...--__-.
Current Charges and Obligations
Insurance and Surety Bonds
Rental of Buildings and Equipment ....
Total Current Charges and Obligations
$ 32,793.07 $3,322.70
Educational Material, Scientific and
Agricultural Equipment 1,320.72
Motor Vehicles 24,582.86
Office Furniture and Equipment ....-........ 9,804.54
Other Capital Outlay 1,337.85
Total Capital Outlay $ 37,045.97
... ..... -
I' I '
Salt Water Conservation .Looks to the Future .
r I I I I
The ultimate purpose of the State Board of Conservation is to conserve
and manage the resources of the salt waters of 'Florida so that the present
generation and all future generations can enjoy their Imximum benefits