Coastal Conservation Association - 2009 in Review

John Blaha

Here at Coastal Conservation Association Texas (CCA Texas), 2009 began as it did for all non-profit organizations and businesses with much concern swirling around the financial status of the country and business alike. Through a continued dedicated effort by chapter volunteers, donors and sponsors, and the staff at CCA Texas, the organization was able to finish 2009 in strong fashion with much anticipation towards 2010. The volunteers and staff are already working hard towards a successful 2010 and it will take a continued dedicated effort by all involved.

2009 was a year of continued emphasis on coastal fisheries filled with support for Texas Parks Wildlife Department (TPWD) Coastal Fisheries Division and Law Enforcement, marine fisheries education and the launching of CCA Texas's Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT) initiative.

The organization continued to be at the forefront on flounder fisheries management and research through the support of TPWD facilities at the CCA-AEP Marine Development Center in Corpus Christi and Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson. A total of $46,000 was contributed in 2009 to the facilities for equipment, including new tanks for research at the CCA-AEP MDC facility and for the modifications of tanks and equipment at Sea Center Texas that are better suited for flounder research and hatchery type operations. In addition to this new and modified equipment, CCA Texas funded $14,000 to TPWD for the purchase of a flounder boat to be used for the gathering of brood stock for hatchery purposes. The flounder boat will be shared between TPWD facilities and is to be rigged like a normal floundering boat. The exception to utilization of the boat is that all fish will be netted in a method perfected by TPWD and University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) researchers and biologists.

Chester Moore, longtime proponent of TPWD's efforts to enhance the flounder fishery was also awarded a $1,000 grant to help enhance his Flounder Revolution effort. His program is providing replica fish through a contest which allows anglers to donate flounder catches to TPWD hatchery facilities for brood stock. These funds will help him in his efforts to reward recreational fishermen in their efforts to support TPWD by giving them a replica of their donated fish which meet prescribed criteria.

CCA Texas continued its long-time support of TPWD law enforcement with the purchase of five-sided scan sonar systems for the coastal wardens. The total cost of these state of the art systems was $12,000. These systems will provide beneficial use for victim recovery; evidence gathering for fisheries crime, such as the location of cut-away nets and doors, which are later used for prosecution in criminal cases; and for the location of derelict vessels and debris that are reported to the Texas General Land Office (GLO) for removal. CCA will continue its commitment to TPWD law enforcement as we move forward in 2010.

Education in the marine fisheries field continues to be an important area of support for CCA Texas. CCA Texas once again funded four summer internships for TPWD coastal fisheries. These internships took place in the Lower Laguna Madre, Upper Laguna Madre, Corpus Christi and Rockport field stations. With a total commitment of $26,072, CCA Texas provided much needed help to TPWD field stations and in addition provided valuable hands-on experience for marine biology students. This process also gives TPWD staff a great opportunity to see firsthand the strengths and habits of potential long term employees as the students progress and eventually graduate into the working environment.

CCA Texas Graduate Scholarship program continues to remain a vital link into the education of future marine biologists. CCA Texas provides five $5,000 graduate scholarships to students at UTMSI Port Aransas (two), Texas A&M College Station, Texas A&M Galveston, and Texas A&M Corpus Christi. These scholarships are all fully endowed at $50,000 and will continue to provide education for future marine biologists for years to come.

2009 marked the beginning of a new habitat effort for CCA Texas. With the approval of the CCA Texas Executive Board in November 2008, the Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT) program officially kicked off in 2009. With emphasis on state-water near shore fisheries, HTFT contributed $135,000 to the TPWD Artificial Reefing Program. This contribution includes $50,000 to the Vancouver reefing site off Freeport, $50,000 to the Port Mansfield reefing site and an additional $35,000 committed to a new site that will be located between Matagorda and Port O'Connor. In addition to the monetary contributions, CCA Texas has worked with TPWD to secure temporary storage facilities in Freeport in partnership with Dorsett Brothers Concrete, secured reefing material in partnership with Old Castle Precast and Texas A&M Galveston and has provided for the transportation of materials to the Freeport facility. The Freeport reef site deployment, originally scheduled for late summer of 2009, has been pushed to spring of 2010. This delay is the result of a bigger and stronger effort that will provide for a larger reefing area and partnerships with TPWD and private companies. The Port Mansfield deployment is also scheduled for spring of 2010 and the new site between Matagorda and Port O'Connor should follow later in the year.

HTFT and the CCA Texas Executive Board approved $10,000 for the Nueces Bay marsh restoration project being implemented by Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (CBBEP). This project will eventually restore approximately 150 acres of marsh. CCA Texas committed funds, along with separate foundation funds currently being sought, will help CBBEP with stage one of the project. In addition to the funds, HTFT and CBBEP will hold a marsh grass planting day that will allow volunteers throughout the area and state the opportunity to be "hands on" with the restoration of Texas's valuable coastal resources. This planting day will be mirrored after the Goose Island planting day in Rockport, where twenty seven volunteers planted over 1,800 plugs of spartina grass into the Goose Island restoration project.

CCA Texas held two first time membership and fund raising banquets in 2009. The Orange Country Chapter held its first event after a year long delay due to Hurricane Ike and the Lower Colorado Chapter was also formed out of Bay City and held a very successful first time event. CCA Texas looks forward to the growth of these chapters and the support of these local communities for years to come.

CCA Texas moves into 2010 with renewed optimism that only dedicated and committed volunteers can provide. The organization will continue the fight, side-by-side, with the grassroots efforts of these volunteers to ensure the coastal resources of Texas flourish and are available for future generations to enjoy. If you are interested in being a part of the greatest coastal conservation effort in Texas, please contact your local chapter or the CCA Texas office at 800.626.4222. More specific information and local emphasis can be found at

CCA Texas is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of Texas' coastal marine resources. For more information, please go to For more information about HTFT please contact John Blaha at 800.626.4222.