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Commercial Fishing Permits Being Issued For Saddle Creek Park To Remove Tilapia & Brown Hoplo

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Invasive Florida Fish

Bartow, Florida – Polk County Parks & Recreation is offering commercial fishing permits to the public at Saddle Creek Park. The permits, which cost $2,900 and require a $100 non-refundable application fee, authorizes commercial fishermen to remove tilapia and brown hoplo from the waterways at Saddle Creek Park.


The permits are no longer available by a lottery drawing and will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis to the first 10 people that apply, pay and pass the background check. The permits will expire March 15, 2017.

Application forms will be available at the Parks & Recreation office, 515 E. Boulevard St., Bartow; the Saddle Creek Park office, 3716 Morgan Combee Road, Lakeland; or on the county’s website at www.polk-county.net . Applications and fees must be hand-delivered at the above-listed locations. No applications will be accepted by mail.

For more information about obtaining a Polk County Parks & Recreation commercial fishing permit, call (863) 534-4340.

Blue tilapia are native to Africa and the Middle East. During the 1960s more than 3,000 blue tilapia were stocked in phosphate pits for aquatic plant control experiments in Hillsborough County, Florida. Some tilapia escaped, spread and reproduced, and subsequent attempts to eradicate the species failed. Tilapia are now considered the most widespread foreign fish species in Florida, and have established themselves in more than 20 Florida counties. They also reproduce in the brackish waters of Tampa Bay. The blue tilapia is considered a competitor with native species for spawning areas, food and space. High densities of blue tilapia result in marked changes in plant and fish community structure.

Brown Hoplo a hardy callichthyid catfish native to South America. It has been introduced to Florida waters and is now ubiquitous in the state. Like most callichthyid catfishes, it can breathe both through its gills and through its intestines by swallowing air. These fishes build a nest of bubbles at the water surface to lay their eggs in. This is a very good adaptation for fishes that live in swampy environments.

The Brown Hoplo is a highly esteemed food fish in its native range. Because of its desirability as a food fish, cast-net fishermen have begun targeting this abundant fish for commercial sale. This may have resulted in the spread of this fish as fishermen attempted to establish profitable cast-net fisheries by moving the fish into uncolonized water bodies.

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