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‘CCA Building Conservation’ Articles

CCA South Carolina Helps Keep Water Data on Tap


Conservationists provide critical funding for water monitoring program

Columbia, S.C. – As part of its commitment to improving both coastal habitat and saltwater recreational angling opportunities, Coastal Conservation Association South Carolina has announced it will provide $5,400 in funding for the continued operation of the water monitoring station at the end of Apache Pier in Horry County this summer.

“CCA South Carolina could not be more pleased to be working with scientists on a research project that provides such critical information,” said Michael Smith, CCA South Carolina state chairman. “This project is another example of CCA’s members and volunteers continued commitment to science-based fisheries management as well as the recreational angling community.”

In 2004, unusually large catches of flounder in the waters off the Myrtle Beach area, often called Long Bay, were determined to have been caused by a hypoxic, or low-oxygen, zone in the water that drove fish toward the shoreline. As a result of that event, in 2006 the S.C. Department of Natural Resources installed water quality monitoring equipment that was maintained by researchers at Coastal Carolina University’s Environmental Quality Laboratory. The monitoring station provides the tools to review oxygen levels, water temperatures, salinity levels, and other environmental conditions along the coast. In August 2009, the water quality monitors indicated that Long Bay had experienced another hypoxia event, alerting fisheries managers and scientists to the conditions in Long Bay. As a result, scientists from SCDNR, CCU and USC are much closer to identifying the conditions that cause such events.

However, state agencies such as the SCDNR and state-supported research programs such as CCU are dealing with severe budget cuts and programs such as the water-monitoring station are being forced to look for new sources of funding to continue operations.

“The need for our state and federal management agencies to produce accurate science has never been more acute, but just as funding requirements to meet that need are rising, budgets are shrinking,” said Mike Able, CCA national board member. “With this small project, CCA South Carolina is stepping up to the plate and simply doing what it can to support the data-gathering process that is so critical to building trust between fisheries managers and the angling community.”

CCA SC’s Topwater Action Campaign was established in 2008 with a focus on oyster recycling, habitat enhancement and restoration, water quality, and education. The program has established itself as a “hands-on” component of CCA’s mission to be resource-first, science-based, advocates for angling.

“When we see something happen on the coast that affects our marine resources, we all want to know what caused it, and then fix it as quickly as possible,” said Scott Whitaker, executive director of CCA South Carolina. “That’s why we created the Topwater Action Campaign as a way for members to be involved and make a difference right here at home. We have members ready and willing to get muddy making an oyster reef or contributing funds to monitor water quality. We all just want healthy marine resources.”

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Jailhouse reef ready to rock

Jailhouse Reef under construction

A joint effort to build a new reef off Mississippi’s coast from the remains of a  jailhouse destroyed by Hurricane Katrina is nearing completion. The Department of Marine Resources, U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor’s office, Coastal Conservation Association Mississippi and Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks joined forces to build a new fishing reef in 8 feet of water, close to Buccaneer and Bayou Caddy. Jailhouse Reef will consist of three legs built in a half-moon shape. Spaces 10 to 15 feet wide are being placed between the legs, to facilitate water flow.

“With the looming environmental impacts of an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, creating habitat with projects like this has never been more important,” said Pat Murray, president of CCA.

The structure is being built of old concrete being donated by various sources, including the cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland and Hancock County. Jailhouse Reef is so-named because its primary source of concrete comes from the former Hancock County Jail in Old Town in Bay St. Louis. The jail was ruined by high water and winds from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Concrete from the old jail will constitute much of the new reef, which will not only provide  fish habitat but also help prevent beach erosion. The new reef is the third reef constructed off Mississippi in recent years, following Handkerchief Shoal Key off Bay St. Louis and another reef located south of Deer Island in Harrison County.

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HEB Pitches in to Build Texas Marine Habitat


Grocery chain contributes $5,000 to CCA Texas habitat program

HOUSTON, TX - San Antonio-based grocery chain H-E-B jumped in to support Texas marine conservation this week with a $5,000 contribution to the CCA Texas Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow program (HTFT). The CCA Texas habitat initiative was launched in 2009 and has already set in motion a number of projects important to Texas recreational anglers, including construction of offshore artificial reefs and marsh restoration programs.

“We were very excited that our Austin chapter forged this relationship with H-E-B and are honored to have them as a partner in our efforts to enhance Texas’ marine habitat,” said Robby Byers, CCA Texas executive director. “Enhancing habitat is all about putting projects in the water where they will do the most good. The dollars that H-E-B has donated to our habitat program will help us create and restore more areas in our coastal waters that are essential for fish habitat. This is a great example of how companies like H-E-B can make a difference.”

H-E-B began 100 years ago in a tiny family shop in Kerrville, Texas, and today is one the nation’s largest independently owned food retailers with more than 300 stores and 75,000 employees in Texas and Mexico. The company has launched an extensive environmental campaign called Take Care of Texas to instill energy efficiency and conserve natural resources in every phase of its operations.

“We proudly support conservation groups, such as the Coastal Conservation Association, with a proven track record of conserving Texas’ marine resources,”  Leslie Lockett, Director of Public Affairs.

“Each year the Austin chapter assesses which Texas companies might have interest in our cause, and H-E-B was an obvious choice as good stewards of our coastal resources,” said Scott McGuire, president of the CCA Texas Austin Chapter. “I am very excited about the relationship we have established with H-E-B and anticipate many more great things to come from it. They share the same concerns for Texas and the conservation of its coastal resources as we do at CCA.”

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CCA is the largest marine resource conservation group of its kind in the nation. With almost 100,000 members in 17 state chapters, CCA has been active in state, national and international fisheries management issues since 1977. For more information visit the CCA Newsroom at www.JoinCCA.org.

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Indian River Lagoon oyster project

Oyster reefs provide habitat and refuge for a variety of wildlife, includ­ing shrimp, blue crab, redfish, snook and sea trout. To date, more 300 species have been identified as depending, either directly or in­directly, on oyster reefs.

Oysters serve an additional important purpose – they have been referred to as the ultimate water filter. They clean water by feeding on plankton and waterborne de­tritus (dead plant and animal material) while removing sediments, pollutants, and micro­organisms from the water column.

CCA Florida’s Orlando Chapter is committed to creating healthy oyster reefs and has been making oyster mats to support the effort.

“This is a great project for CCA to be involved in. It has a significant, positive impact on our fisheries and the benefit is right here in our own backyard, where many of us prefer to fish,” said Alan Byrd, CCA Or­lando Chapter president.

CCA’s Orlando Chapter is volunteering with the Nature Conservancy to deploy the mats to help restore oyster beds in the Indian River Lagoon.

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Crab trap cleanup

Derelict crab traps are a boating danger and an eyesore along the shallows of Mobile Bay, and they are perpetual killing machines. Crabs enter the abandoned trap and die. Small fish and crabs feed on the decaying crabs. More crabs are attracted, and the cycle goes on and on.

CCA Alabama volunteers took to the shallow flats in March to retrieve and destroy abandoned traps. Partnering with Mobile County Wildlife Conservation Association and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the crew met on the Causeway for a morning of in-the-mud fun. The project is conducted every two years, and it is a favorite activity for CCA Alabama members.

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Nueces Bay project

CCA Texas’ Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT) is donating $10,000 and joining hands with the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program (CBBEP) and the Fish America Foundation (FAF) to help restore 150 acres of marsh that has been lost to various factors along Nueces Bay’s Portland Causeway.
“This project is vital to restoring this once dynamic area,” said HTFT Director John Blaha. “With a little help, this area will become prime habitat for many species including crabs, shrimp and bait fish. Once this occurs, gamefish will follow and the circle of life will be restored.”
CCA Texas’ HTFT Program, a major habitat restoration program that was initiated in 2008, has already dedicated tens of thousands of dollars for various projects including reef creation and marsh restoration initiatives along Texas’ near-shore waters. The projects are funded through CCA Texas fundraising efforts as well as with outside support from individuals, corporations and foundations.
“CCA Texas has placed a major emphasis on habitat projects and this project, much like the Goose Island project in Aransas Bay and the Sportsman Road project in Galveston Bay, are a major step forward in restoring and conserving vital habitat areas for the future,” stated Robby Byers, CCA Texas executive director. “The more habitat areas we can restore today means more habitat, more fish, and better angling opportunities for the future. CCA Texas is able to continue this important work thanks to the dedication of our 50,000 members who understand the importance of giving today for a brighter future tomorrow. CCA Texas is proud to be a partner with CBBEP and FAF in this important project.”

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Topwater Action Campaign on Tap for Summer

CCA SC‘s habitat program has been in full swing throughout the winter season collecting oysters for recycling. The results of those winter efforts will soon be put to use with the beginning of the summer oyster reef restoration efforts. Last year, CCA SC volunteers and members participated in the construction of four oyster reefs up and down the coast of South Carolina. This year’s efforts will be more ambitious. “Watching this program develop and grow has been extremely exciting for CCA SC,” said Scott Whitaker, CCA SC executive director. “To have the volunteers come together and focus on habitat improvement and to see the support that continues to build from local communities and businesses for this effort is overwhelming.”

CCA SC is currently scheduling activities with the state Department of Natural Resources S.C.O.R.E. program revolving around bagging and preparing the oysters for distribution along the coast. Actual oyster reef projects will scheduled soon afterward. Visit the CCA SC website for dates, times, and locations of coming events.

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Habitat program keeps rolling

Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) recently completed Phase I of a 25-acre marsh restoration project within the Goose Island State Park in Rockport, Texas.  CCA Texas Aransas Bay Chapter President Karen Wiatrek, and CCA Texas Assistant Director John Blaha recently surveyed the completion of Phase I work with TPWD officials and Charles Belaire of Belaire Environmental.

After surveying the site, Wiatrek handed Belaire a $25,000 check from the CCA Texas Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow program for the planting of 10,000 marsh plants that finished out the 12 acres as part of Phase I.  Phase II construction is planned to begin this summer and will result in the restoration of 25 acres of lost wetlands and marsh along the Aransas Bay shoreline.

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New boat for research

Texas Parks Wildlife Department staff from Sea Center Texas recently took delivery of a brand new flounder boat for their research program to study and create a southern flounder enhancement program. The boat was purchased through a $14,000 contribution from CCA and a donation from Kresta’s Boats and Motors.

Sea Center staff will use the boat to gather flounder using “dip net” type nets. As Sea Center staff and staff from the Marine Development Center in Flour Bluff continue to work on the enhancement program, the boat will be invaluable in obtaining brood stock.

“We are excited to finally get this wonderful boat,” said TPWD’s Shane Bonnot of Sea Center Texas. “It will take us to the next level of this program and we can’t wait to put it in the water.”

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New fishing pavilion at Cypremort Point

A large contingent of state and parish officials joined with CCA Louisiana volunteers March 26 to break ground on a new fishing pavilion at Cypremort Point. The facility – to be named “The Pavilion at Quintana Landing” – was originally the vision of the Sugar Chapter, whose members worked with State Reps. Simone Champagne and Sam Jones, as well as St. Mary and Iberia parish officials, to make it a reality.

“This project has been a long time in the making, and it is a much-needed addition to the boat landing,” said Corry Landry, chapter president. “Our volunteers, led by David Clement and Blake Fourquier, are proud to have a part in it, and we are so thankful to our friends in state and local government who are making it possible.”

“This will be a great addition to our facility here at Quintana, and it is long overdue,” said St. Mary Parish President Don Naquin. “We are so thankful to CCA for stepping up to the plate.”

Landry says plans for the pavilion call for the 80-by-40-foot structure to be built on the point at Quintana Boat Landing. The pavilion will provide a place to hold fishing tournaments, host youth events or simply escape from the heat.

The project is being funded through state funds allocated during the 2009 legislative session. The facility will be maintained by St. Mary Parish using funds collected through boat launch fees. It will be open for public use for a variety of purposes. Construction is expected to begin in the coming weeks.

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