in the shery. This migration may be in response tochanges in water temperature. However, the movementmay in act be west to east, because pompano beginto show up in the spring in southwest Florida at thesame time they show up in the Panhandle. In somecoastal counties, pompano can be ound year-round.Permit are ound in north and central Florida in thewarmer months and are ound in south Floridathroughout the year. Further details o their migratorymovements are unknown.
Much more inormation has been gathered on the liecycle o pompano than on that o permit, probablybecause pompano has been a species o interest toaquaculturists as a ood product. However, manyunanswered questions remain regarding the biologyand behavior o both species.Pompano are believed to spawn in oshore watersrom spring through all, with a peak in April and Mayand a smaller peak in September. In the Keys, spawningmay occur all year, as small pompano can be observedin the sur zone year-round. Along the Atlantic coast,they apparently spawn near the Gul Stream. Femalepompano are estimated to produce rom 133,000 to800,000 eggs per season. Along the Gul coast,pompano larvae have been collected rom 5 to 15 milesoshore o Tampa Bay.How long pompano remain in their larval stage isunknown, as is the mechanism by which they reachnursery areas. Scientists do know that the larvae moveinto waters along sandy beaches, usually into the surzone. They remain in the turbid sur zone until theyare about 5 to 6 inches long, and then move away romthe sur zone. Although some schools o palm-sizedpompano have been observed in the mouths oestuaries in the all, generally all have moved out othe sur zone by late all. Juvenile pompano grow aboutan inch a month, usually reaching a length o 10 or 11inches by their rst birthday.Both male and emale pompano reach sexualmaturity at about one year o age; however, someemales may not be sexually mature until they arethree years old. Females are slightly larger than maleso the same age. The maximum age documented or apompano in Florida is seven years.Juvenile pompano orage on burrowing worms,insect larvae, and coquina clams. Adults eat a varietyo mollusks and crustaceans as well as smaller sh.Adult and juvenile permit consume a diet similar tothat o pompano: adults eat mollusks and crabs, andjuveniles eat benthic invertebrates such as worms andmollusks.Permit, both males and emales, mature at aboutthree years and, at that time, are about 19 to 21.5inches long. Growth is rapid until age ve (about 25inches) and then slows. Spawning occurs primarily inlate spring but continues throughout summer and intoall. Permit spawn over ree promontories and articialrees in deeper water. Studies o daily otolith ringsshow that ater permit eggs hatch, the larvae remainin the open water or 15 to 18 days beore settling intothe primary nursery areas o shallow, sandy beachhabitats o the gul, ocean and bays. Like pompano,they disappear rom the beach nurseries at lengths oabout 8 inches.In one o the ew studies o adult permit romTampa Bay and the Florida Keys, the oldest individualwas 23 years o age; the longest was 35 inches. Permitcan grow to nearly 59 inches long, so this sampleprobably underestimates their lie expectancy.
Pompano are a lucrative target or commercialshermen. Commercial landings exceeded 600,000pounds in 1994 but dropped by nearly 40%, to 387,000pounds, in 1995—the rst year o a ban on the use oentangling-type nets within three miles o shore onthe gul coast and one mile on the Atlantic coast.Landings increased again in 1997 and 1998 to pre-net-limitation numbers; but in the 2000s, commerciallandings have fuctuated and have not reached theharvest totals seen beore the net ban.While commercial landings have been decreasing,recreational harvests have been increasing. Recreationalanglers landed 500,000 pounds o pompano in 2008,up rom the 32,000 to 142,000 pounds per yearreported by anglers in the 1980s. Harvest estimatesrom the 1980s are considered less reliable, mainlybecause a relatively small number o recreationalangler interviews were conducted.In the late 1990s, recognizing the need or additional