A unique and historic Sportfishing Research Center will become part of the Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. The HRI has pledged $300,000 and the Coastal Conservation Association $500,000 toward creation of the new center.
“This research center is unique in a number of ways, and truly there is nothing like it in the western Gulf,” said Larry McKinney, executive director for the HRI. “The timing for the creation of the center is perfect. With such pressing issues as the role of Gulf passes on bay ecosystems and the impact of diminishing Gulf habitat, recreational anglers need a center that can tackle these multi-decade concerns.”
The HRI and CCA are “natural partners in conservation,” said Mark Ray, chairman of CCA Texas.
“This partnership creates an exciting opportunity to focus on science that supports the multi-billion dollar recreational-fishing industry on the Texas coast and the Gulf of Mexico,” said McKinney. “I could not think of a better partner than CCA Texas to make this dream a reality.”
This unique research center holds promise to address many of the key scientific issues facing the ecosystems that support Gulf of Mexico sport fishing. Dr. Greg Stunz, endowed chair for fisheries and ocean health at HRI, will direct the center’s operations. Stunz has a long history in the marine-science community and was CCA’s first marine-science scholarship recipient.
“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 Stunz. “It is exciting for me and my team to finally have the resources to meet this challenge.”
CCA Texas and HRI will immediately begin to build the framework that will support the center’s research activities and will include provisions to bring additional partners into the center. Like-minded conservation organizations, business and industry are anticipated as potential members. Other research organizations will also be able to participate in and contribute to the center’s efforts to build the science base for conservation of sport fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico.