Permit are found only in the western Atlantic where they occur from Massachusetts to
southern Brazil, throughout the West Indies, and in Bermuda (Berry and Smith-Vanez 1978).
Permit inhabit the waters in northern and central Florida during the warmer months and the
waters in south Florida year-round. Juveniles occur in the waters near sandy beaches where they
prey on benthic invertebrates (Finucane 1969). Adults are associated with channels, holes,
sandflats, and reefs. Permit grow rapidly until reaching age 5; then growth slows considerably
(Crabtree et al. 2002). Maximum age for permit appears to be at least 23 years. Males and
females grow at the same rate; predicted size at age is 12.6 inches fork length (FL) at age 1 and
25.4 inches FL at age 5. Half of female permit reach maturity by 21.5 inches and about 3 years
old (Table 1; Crabtree et al. 2002). Males mature at smaller sizes (19.1 inches FL) at 2 years of
age. Spawning occurs during the summer in the Florida Keys and possibly again during the fall
in Tampa Bay.
Juvenile permit are initially planktivorous and feed on copepods, amphipods, mysids, and
larval shrimp and fish (Carr and Adams 1973). At larger sizes, juveniles shift to benthic prey
such as mole crabs, coquina clams, flatworms, gastropods, and sessile barnacles. Larger
juveniles and adults prey on gastropods, sea urchin, bivalves, and crabs (Randall 1967).
Total 2005 landings of permit in Florida were 113,381 pounds. The recreational fishery
accounted for 82% of the total statewide landings. Fifty-three percent of the statewide landings
in 2005 were made on the gulf coast. Commercial landings during 2005 were greatest in Lee,
Manatee and Pinellas Counties on the gulf coast (Fig. 1). Recreational landings were evenly
spread along the Atlantic coast and, with the exception of Monroe County, in coastal counties
south to the Big Bend region (Fig. 2).
The 2005 total landings of permit were 0.3% higher than the average landings in the
previous five years (2000–2004) and were 22% lower than the 1982–2005 historical average
landings (Fig. 3). The recreational landings estimates prepared using MRFSS data were based on
recreational catch rates determined for only a few permit anglers, so these estimates may not be
reliable. For instance, during 1997 fewer than 70 permit anglers were interviewed statewide.
Commercial catch rates have been steady on the Atlantic coast since 1992 (Fig 4).
Commercial catch rates on the gulf coast, which generally increased between 1994 and 1998,
have fluctuated around 10 pounds per trip since 1999 (Fig 5). Estimates of recreational catch
rates do not show a long-term trend on the Atlantic coast, but have dropped and stabilized on the
Atlantic coast since 1999 (Figs. 6, 7).
Young-of-the-year permit varied cyclically with lows in 1997-1998 and 2001-2003 on
the Atlantic coast (Fig. 8). On the gulf coast, they declined during 1998-2003 following high
abundance in 1996-1997 and then rebounded in 2004 and 2005 (Fig. 9). Post-young-of-the-year
permit showed similar trends on both coasts, with highest values during the period 1997–1999
(Figs. 10, 11). No gross external abnormalities were reported on any permit collected from
There is not enough known about permit life history to conduct a biological assessment
of the status of permit in Florida (Armstrong et al. 1996b).
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|Status and Trends 2007 Report
Florida’s Inshore and Nearshore Species
by Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
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