The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents recently gave their approval for the creation of a sportfish and conservation research facility on their Corpus Christi campus. According to a press release, the new Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation (CSSC) will be housed in the university’s Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI).
“The Island University is excited to have the first center of its kind in the nation dedicated to advancing sportfish management, science, and conservation,” said Dr. Flavius Killebrew, university president and CEO. “The new Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation will position the University as a national and international leader in addressing issues related to sportfish.”
Major funding came from the Texas chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), which pledged $500,000 towards creating the center, and the Harte Research Support Foundation, which contributed $300,000. In addition to research facilities, funds will go towards procuring an offshore research vessel, boats, and other scientific gear.
“As researchers, we need the ability to step out of the trees and see the whole forest in order to address the truly pressing problems facing sport fisheries,” said Dr. Greg Stunz, who is slated to be the director of the new center. “It is exciting for me and my team to finally have the resources to meet this challenge.”
Stunz further states that he hopes the center will work towards addressing threats such as a changing environment, diminished freshwater inflows, and habitat loss. These factors are a major threat to sportfishing, which as an industry is an economic powerhouse in Texas. Freshwater anglers generate more than $981 million in retail sales in Texas annually while over 750,000 saltwater anglers have an economic impact of over $1.7 billion.
“CCA and HRI are natural partners in conservation,” said Mark Ray, CCA Texas chairman. “This center and the scientific research it will create are keys in ensuring healthy marine resources for the future of recreational fisheries.”