CCA Texas Funds Flounder Equipment for Sea Center

Matt Warren
CCA Texas Funds Flounder Equipment for Sea Center
In continuing the effort to rebuild flounder stocks, CCA Texas' executive board recently approved funding for new flounder stocking equipment for Sea Center Texas. Sea Center Texas, a state of the art facility initially designed for stock enhancement work with redfish and speckled trout, was established through a partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, CCA, and the Dow Chemical Company. It is operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife.

Historically, the success of Sea Center's stocking enhancement program has depended on these key components: the ability to condition the brood stock, the ability to spawn fish and collect eggs, the ability to hatch eggs and collect larvae, and the ability to grow larvae out to viable fingerlings. While Sea Center biologists have had great success in taking redfish and trout through these steps, southern flounder have proven resistant to most of the process. Unlike trout and redfish, flounder larvae are extremely fragile, and are ultra sensitive to salinity and temperature levels. Currently, the flounder brood stock at Sea Center Texas is being held in tanks that must be drained to retrieve fish for spawning. This changes the temperature and salinity of the water, which stresses the flounder and decreases spawning activity. In addition, current methods of collecting eggs, hatching them, and raising them into viable fingerlings, which have been successful with redfish and trout, have been largely ineffective with flounder.

For Sea Center Texas to progress in their stock enhancement work with flounder, improvements must be made to the stocking facilities to provide greater stability in water salinity and temperature. Egg collection and sustainability of larvae into fingerlings must also improve for future large scale stocking of flounder to occur. This is where CCA Texas decided to get involved. By granting $30,000 dollars to Sea Center Texas, CCA Texas again showed its dedication to the recovery of the southern flounder. This money will go towards various pumps, filters, tanks, and heaters that will provide the type of nursery environment that is suitable to flounder. It is believed that this equipment will greatly improve Sea Center's ability to produce flounder, and will bring them closer to stocking large numbers of flounder in Texas bays. Sea Center Texas hatchery biologist Shane Bonnot said, "The enhancement equipment donated by CCA is extremely important to the development of a successful TPWD flounder stock enhancement program. This equipment will have an immediate and direct impact on our ability to hold and spawn additional flounder broodfish. We are greateful to CCA for their overwhelming response to our efforts, and can't emphasize enough how much we appreciate their continued support."

Over the past two years, significant progress has been made in flounder stock enhancement. Last year, Sea Center successfully spawned and raised flounder fingerlings to an acceptable stocking size. With CCA's recent funding of new stock enhancement equipment, Sea Center will likely be able to include southern flounder as a candidate for large scale stocking in Texas bays. Through the hard work and dedication of its members, CCA Texas will continue to push for the recovery of southern flounder in Texas waters. This fish is a valuable and cherished part of the Texas Slam that with continued support is sure to regain its once prolific status.