CCA Texas State Board recently continued there never ending support of habitat restoration and creation by earmarking $2.5 million for habitat restoration and creation projects along the Texas Coast. These are funds raised by local chapters across the state and will not only provide monies for these projects, but also as leverage to raise more habitat funds from public, private and government funding sources. This commitment is possible because of another record breaking year in fundraising. This record effort is driven by dedicated and tireless volunteers across the state. At the end of 2019, CCA Texas and Building Conservation Trust (BCT), CCA National’s habitat program, have funded 40 projects for a total of $7.6 million.
The first two projects to be funded out of the $2.5 million are nearshore reefing efforts in the Rio Grande Valley Reef and the Corpus Christi MU775 reef site. The Friends of Rio Grande Valley Reef (FRGVR) have been a great partner for CCA Texas and the recreational fishing community. Their efforts continue to impress, and CCA Texas has funded another $250,000 for habitat creation in the Rio Grande Valley reef and the Corpus Christi MU775 reefing site, working with FRGVR. The MU775 site is located between Packery Channel and Port Aransas and holds pyramids, concrete culverts, the Kinta, and will now be home to concrete railroad tie patch reefs.
This $250,000 in funding will place approximately 400 tons of the materials in the Corpus Christi MU775 site (Packery Channel) and 4,200 tons in the Rio Grande Valley reef site. In addition, FRGVR is donating another 400 tons of materials to the MU775 site that will provide much needed low relief nursery piles and research opportunities along the middle Texas coast. The success of a diversified habitat within the RGV reef site has proven to be effective as a habitat that not only holds fish, but raises fish for each year class.
CCA Texas and BCT are both actively seeking habitat projects up and down the Texas coast. They are currently working on oyster restoration efforts in the Upper Texas coast and well as more nearshore reefing opportunities in the Upper and Middle coast sites. Partnerships are key to these efforts. The coming months look promising for fresh new projects and the HTFT and BCT committees look forward to making existing partnerships stronger and forging new partnerships along the way.
Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation - Research and Fisheries Management have long been cornerstones of CCA Texas efforts. CCA Texas was one of the original funding partners in the creation of the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation (CSSC) at Harte Research Institute (HRI), located on the Texas A&M Corpus Christi Campus. The State Board renewed that commitment to this world class research facility by signing on to an additional 5-year $500,000 donation. These funds will support angler engagement as well as research in three key focal areas:
- Artificial Reef Research – There is a growing body of scientific evidence showing the positive contribution of artificial reefs to recreational fisheries. Nevertheless, there are still numerous science gaps on how these structures are used by sportfish and how best to create artificial reefs to maximize the goals of the reefing programs.
- CSSC Tagging Initiatives – Using state-of-the-art electronic tags and an expansive acoustic array known as the Texas Acoustic Array Network (TexAAN), CSSC conducts both fine and broad-scale studies of movement, habitat use, and discard mortality on a variety of inshore and offshore sportfish. These studies are critical to determining seasonal migration corridors, understanding the relative value of different habitats, and identifying release practices that maximize fish survival.
- Inshore Habitat Assessments – A major focus of CSSC is researching sportfish use of estuarine essential fish habitats and the vital role they play in sustaining marine populations. For example, over the last decade, CSSC studies have examined impact of tidal inlets such as Cedar Bayou. Evaluated oyster reefs as essential fish habitat, and assessed flounder nursery habitat, among others.
The partnership is an important part of the CCA mission to “conserve, promote, and enhance the present and future availability of the coastal resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public.” The scientific findings of the CSSC are important in influencing policy, management, and conservation efforts. This model continues to be successful and will be an important part of these efforts in the future.
TPWD Summer Interns - CCA Texas has a long history of supporting TPWD internships. With new flounder hatchery facilities coming online at the CCA Texas Marine Development Center and Sea Center Texas, TPWD requested two additional interns to help at these facilities. One summer intern was approved for each facility for a total cost of $13,000. This additional funding brings CCA Texas’s total commitment for Summer Interns at Coastal Fisheries to 17 interns at a total cost of $110,500 for 2020. This program continues to provide valuable experience for future marine biologists and an opportunity for TPWD to have important and on-the-job training experiences.For more information about CCA Texas, please visit www.ccatexas.org or contact the office at (713) 626-4222.