Our research focuses on the roles of apex predators, such as sharks, in Gulf ecosystems; evaluating and enhancing sportfish habitat using artificial reefs; Red Snapper ecology and management; catch-and-release strategies to reduce discard mortality, and variety of project supporting sustainable management of estuarine fishes such as Spotted Seatrout, Red Drum, and many other species.
The Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation (CSSC) is studying how reopening Cedar Bayou, a natural tidal inlet between Matagora and San Jose islands that has been closed since 1979, impacts the population densities of juvenile fish within Mesquite Bay’s seagrass nursery habitat. Quantifying the relationship between tidal inlets and juvenile fish populations is crucial to sustainable fish management along the Texas coast.
Cedar Bayou was re-opened in September 2014. Researchers at the CSSC gathered baseline data on the environment adjacent to the waterway for two years prior to its opening. Researchers will now monitor seasonal changes in the abundance of fish and crustaceans for a year. They will also determine if adult Red Drum are using Cedar Bayou as a migration route between the wetlands and the breeding grounds of the Gulf using a tag tracking technology known as acoustic telemetry.
Man-made structures in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico make up the largest artificial reef complex in the world. During the last few decades, artificial reef development has increasingly been undertaken as a way to create new habitat, increase fishery production and promote activities like fishing and diving. The Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation (CSSC) is working to determine how structure type and location of artificial reef materials can influence the surrounding fish communities.