IFAS Extension: 2011 South Central District
Featured Story: Goliath Grouper Count
Bryan Fluech, Collier County Sea Grant Agent:
"The Great Goliath Grouper Count started in 2010. This was an opportunity for Sea Grant agents, working with their local stakeholder groups, to assist the State in monitoring goliath grouper populations in southwest Florida."
"The goliath grouper has been a protected species for over twenty years. Particularly here in southwest Florida, the perception is that they're fully recovered. But we go down to artificial reefs, and what we do is we survey for minimum abundance and also size distribution. This data is recorded and we send it to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for them to analyze."
"In 2010, we surveyed close to sixty sites within a five day period--which, again, there's no way that the researchers could have done that by themselves."
"Through the pilot project and this year, we've got sites from Monroe County all the way up into Taylor County. The bulk of the survey sites though are in between Collier and Pasco County."
"For our counts we're working with Collier County, City of Naples, Rookery Bay Reserve, even our sheriff's office--and this is kind of a win-win situation because we can use the sheriff's boats to get to the sites, they can also count it as training for their marine unit."
"Just from an economic point of view, the fact that we are utilizing volunteers, we are sharing resources--it doesn't matter what agency you're in, that's something that--everybody's looking to save money these days."
"From an Extension point of view, it's an opportunity for us to educate our participants who partake in the surveys with an opportunity to learn more about goliath grouper management and ecology. And again, to work with the fishermen and other people who interact with these fish, so that hopefully we can provide some science-based answers that provide some useful information to them."
Teamwork is the focus for the South Central district this year.
In Sarasota County, the Phillippi Farmers Market brings together a variety of sustainability ideas in one location. This centrally located market features only local products and is open to both residents and tourists during the middle of the week. For agents Van Linkous and Robert Kluson, the goal is to educate visitors about the benefits of buying local and how they can help the county become sustainable.
The Pinellas Energy Efficiency Project is putting energy conservation in the hands of the Pinellas County residents by educating them about ways they can save power. A team of agents distributed more than 60,000 energy saving light bulbs to 16,000 residents through educational classes and events like the poster designing contest for school children. The program has already saved 11 million kilowatts of energy, worth about 5 million dollars.
And in Pasco County, Ed Jennings is saving the county almost 300 thousand a year by reducing the need to mow along county roads. Jennings’s No Mow By-Way program uses non-toxic herbicides to prevent the growth of grass and weeds during the summer season. The program continues to expand and could be used by counties across the state in the next few years.
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