SARASOTA, FL – With its carnivorous hunger and aggressiveness, snook offer Florida fishermen some of the most entertaining catches without going on a sea charter. The Mote Marine Laboratory is doing its best to keep snook available for sportsmen and the local ecology.

Mote scientists released 320 hatchery-reared juvenile snook into Phillippi Creek on Tuesday, Nov. 29 as part of an ongoing research project focused on finding the most effective methods to replenish and enhance wild snook populations.

According to the American Sportfishing Association, Florida is the top-ranked state in economic output for recreational fishing, which draws more than $8 billion to the economy annually. Saltwater fishing alone generates about 80 percent of that income.

Increased fishing pressure and environmental concerns such as weather patterns and red tide contributed to a serious decline in snook population, according to Mote. The fish was placed on the state’s list of “species of special concern” in the 1989s. As a result, fishing restrictions and careful monitoring led to a rebound in snook in the following decade.

However, occasional environmental pressures, such as red time and winter freezes. Events such as a winter cold spell in 2010 resulted in the deaths of millions of snook and the closure of a fishery continue to reduce snook and stocks periodically.

For more than 25 years, Mote and Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission scientists have partnered on research studies designed to evaluate whether stocking hatchery-reared snook can be an effective fishery management tool for rapidly replenishing snook stocks following catastrophic events, such as red tide.

In this most recent snook release study, scientists will tag and release 10,000 to 15,000 hatchery-reared snook in several locations in Sarasota and Manatee counties, including Bowlees Creek, Whitaker Bayou, Hudson Bayou, Phillippi Creek, North Creek and South Creek. By dividing fish

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