The Year of Challenges

John Blaha
The Year of Challenges
Sabine Reef will soon receive cultch materials in the restoration of this historic reef in Sabine Lake. Material deployment should be completed by late-August. -Lisa Laskowski Photography.

2020 has become a year many of us are ready to see pass on in the world of conservation.  While great strides have been made in different areas of conservation, the COVID19 pandemic has caused many issues for CCA Texas and like organizations across the state and nation. Fundraisers have been cancelled, rescheduled and/or totally re-designed so that the long traditions of conservation efforts led by our diligent and dedicated volunteers can continue to move forward. The legislative efforts of CCA Texas continue as well. The 2020 session brought great strides in the management of southern flounder, the committees continue to keep a watchful eye on issues surrounding the expansion of the Port of Corpus Christi, and other issues that affect the health of Texas’s coastal resources.  

Habitat work continues as well.  After delays in the delivery of materials, the Dagger Island project that CCA Texas and Building Conservation Trust (BCT) have partnered with Ducks Unlimited and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is nearing completion on the current phase. Once this work is completed the contractors will begin their work on the Sabine Lake oyster reef restoration project.  Hopes are high that this will be completed by late summer and early fall. Bid packages were released the week of June 29 and TPWD will have a contractor in place mid-August. Work will begin as soon as possible and the project has a completion date set of August 2021. So while the challenges are many at the present time, CCA Texas, BCT and others continue to work tirelessly for Texas’s coastal resources. If you know of any individuals, companies or foundations that might want to support the habitat creation and restoration efforts of CCA Texas and BCT, please contact John Blaha at [email protected] or Pat Murray at [email protected].

TPWD Commissioner Patton Makes Commitment to Flounder Research

By Shane Bonnot

In late May, The University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) announced that Bobby Patton, a Fort Worth businessman, donated $1 million to UTMSI to support southern flounder research. As a part-time resident of Port Aransas, member of the UTMSI Advisory Council, member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and avid angler, Patton is no stranger to the plight of the southern flounder and wants to see meaningful change in the fishery to ensure a recovery of the species.

Per a May 29, 2020 UTMSI press release, Patton states, “I’m passionate about fishing and committed to making decisions with the best facts available. As a commissioner on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, I want to do what is right for flounder and what is right for Texas. I think there is universal agreement that flounder populations are in trouble not only in Texas but nationwide.”

Patton’s donation came on the heels of a decision by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission to raise the minimum size to 15 inches and strengthen language for commercial fishers to report all landings. An additional measure to close flounder fishing from November 1 – December 15 was also adopted but will be delayed until 2021, citing economic concerns arising from the Covid-19 Pandemic.

While it remains to be seen what specific research will be conducted, UTMSI states that the donation will dramatically increase their efforts to research flounder reproductive capability and the critical times in their life cycle that require special attention from fishery managers and anglers to reverse the population decline.

It's not often that you see such a generous donation directed at such a specific problem in fisheries management and harkens back to the early days of the red drum recovery when there was an outpouring of support and donations from dedicated anglers and conservationists to establish a stock enhancement program. Thank you, Mr. Bobby Patton - Your donation to such a worthy cause is much appreciated by the angling community and your name will be recalled when the stories of the southern flounder recovery are told by future generations.