BOEM assesses the importance of offshore sand shoal habitats to fisheries

Last edited 09/05/2019
Contact Information

Contact: Marjorie Weisskohl (BOEM),, (703) 787-1304

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s support for broad-scale environmental monitoring of sand shoals offshore of Cape Canaveral, in partnership with the University of Florida, the Navy and NASA researchers, will add to the bureau’s understanding of the habitat preferences and importance of the features across a variety of fish species throughout seasons over several consecutive years.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) $13.6 million for Hurricane Sandy response included $2.5 million for environmental studies and assessments. One study, running from October 2013 through at least 2018, involves broad-scale environmental monitoring offshore Cape Canaveral, Florida, a sand source for eight Florida coastal restoration projects to date. The research will provide important insights regarding habitat preferences across fish species, seasons and years. The species to be tagged with acoustic transmitters include red drum and Spanish mackerel, which are found within the Canaveral Shoals complex and support substantial recreational and commercial fisheries. 
BOEM agreements with the University of Florida (UF), the Navy and NASA involve collecting data to support BOEM and other agencies in making more informed resource management decisions by better understanding the ecological function and recovery of dredged sand shoal habitats. Examination of complex biological assemblages from benthic invertebrates to plankton and predatory fishes will aid our understanding of key functions and processes.

Researchers from UF, the Navy and NASA are collecting data on the movement, behavior and habitat preferences of fish associated with shoals to compare with data from control sites. From late 2013 through September 2015, 400 fish were tagged with acoustic transmitters; data is periodically downloaded from the acoustic receivers resting on the ocean floor.
The tagged fishes’ movements are tracked via the Florida Atlantic Coast Telemetry Array (FACT), a collaboration of nearly two dozen partner agencies, including BOEM. FACT maintains more than 400 stationary acoustic receivers from Georgia to the Florida Keys and Bahamas. BOEM is sponsoring 29 of the 57 acoustic receivers deployed on or directly adjacent to the Canaveral Shoal complex. Several dozen additional receivers are moored in the Indian River Lagoon and nearby coastal inlets. Signals from some of the Canaveral Shoals tagged species have been recorded in the Chesapeake Bay and offshore New Jersey.

More information: 
 Press Release 10-21-2013

Marine Minerals Program

Marine Minerals Program Offshore Sand Resources


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