KeysKeeper has initiated discussions with Bonefish and Tarpon Trust to explore the creation and funding of a bonefish hatchery in the Florida Keys.
Much of the science and conceptual work that surround this effort correctly belong to BTT. The science of raising bonefish in a hatchery environment is not well known. BTT is working on that set of problems. Nonetheless, there are a set of issues that involve the more mundane issues of locating, building and funding an ongoing hatchery. These issues need to be developed in parallel with the science so that when the science is ready, there is a fully developed, fully financed plan for scale up and implementation.
There are a variety of possible explanations for the decline of bonefish populations in the Florida Keys. We could wait for a scientific explanation of the nature of the problem to emerge. However, there are two explanations for the process of forging ahead with a hatchery.
One advantage of establishing a bonefish hatchery program is that once we have the ability to introduce viable young bonefish into the environment, we can answer some of the problems by studying their success. If, for instance, they do not do well, then we can focus on issues of food resources, habitat and the like. If, on the other hand, they thrive, then the need to understand the issues that surround natural nurseries and their health rise to the fore.
The second, simpler point is that we have waited a long time already and we don’t seem closer to an answer. The theories multiply and the fish continue to decline. Depending on the cost, the better path may be to simply pick a model, preferably one that contains a solution, and implement it. The worst that happens is that you lose your money. But at least you have tried.