Mote Joins With CCA and FWC to Restore Snook After Red Tide

Science

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY FRESHLY SQUEEZED CONTENT EVERY MORNING TUESDAY SEP 11, 2018

A new partnership between conservation organizations aims to restore the snook population inthe Gulf of Mexico, and Mote Marine Laboratory will play a key role in the effort.

Coastal Conservation Association Florida and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on Monday announced the “Adopt-A-Snook” effort, a two-year initiative to raise and release 10,000 hatchery-reared juvenile snook along Florida’s southwest coast. 

“It’s our duty to ensure that the fishing stocks are healthy and plentiful,” says Brian Gorski, executive director for CCA Florida. “Obviously with the red tide that caused these fish kills, we thought it was important to help.”

Through the CCA Florida website, individuals can adopt snook for $100 a piece. The fish will be released in April, the soonest when scientists believe the waters will be free from red tide blooms, or when waters are deemed safe.

Mote will locate tidal creek "nurseries" to restock with snook that would usually be supplied by spawning snook but were hard hit by the red tide bloom,” says Mote spokeswoman Stephannie Kettle. 

It’s part of an ongoing effort to keep healthy fish populations. “Snook stock enhancement is not new to Mote,” Kettle notes. “For more than 20 years, Mote has partnered with FWC to grow high-quality eggs, larvae and juvenile common snook.”

But this program puts a stronger emphasis on the importance of such efforts, especially after natural disasters like this year’s red tide blooms.

The blooms this year hit the fishing industry especially hard as summer time normally serves as peak snook season. But the disaster could also have long-term effects on the local fish population. 

“One of the potentially most devastating and highly visible impacts around Charlotte Harbor was to the spawning snook population,” says Dr. Michael Crosby, president and CEO for Mote. “Many of the dead snook were laden with eggs to produce the next generation.”

Gorski, who works from a home office in Bradenton, says CCA Florida also launched a similar effort last week for redfish. The organization has undertaken various projects to improve fishing eco-systems all around Florida, including creating artificial habitats through sink ships. This is the first major restocking effort by the organization.

Adopted fish will be tagged and tracked, and individuals who adopt snook will receive a certificate as well as updates on the life on the snook once released into the waterways.

FWC officials say partnerships between the state and scientific organizations like Mote will ensure effective efforts to protect the wildlife. “FWC and Mote have a decades-long partnership with snook research and recovery,” says FWC Executive Director Eric Sutton, “and we are pleased to be a partner with CCA Florida, Mote and the community to enhance this effort.”

Photo by Conor Goulding, courtesy Mote: Dr. Ryan Schloesser holds a juvenile snook raised to be released for fisheries enhancement research.

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