Coastal Conservation Association-Texas uses clout to improve habitat

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If the attendance at the Coastal Conservation Association’s Corpus Christi chapter banquet in March was any indicator, the grass-roots support for saltwater fishing and conservation efforts has never been stronger.

More than 2,200 people – the largest CCA gathering in the country – packed into the American Bank Center for the event, which has become synonymous with hefty fundraising aimed at improving habitat and angling opportunities, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, it’s just another feather in the cap for a group standing united and resolute in getting things done, even when the task appears daunting. It also doesn’t hurt that it has helped raise the state and national profiles of the organization.

CCA-Texas threw its support behind the dredging of Cedar Bayou early in the process of the undertaking years in the making that is set to improve water quality and fishing in the area near Rockport, among other conservation-related issues. Cedar Bayou is a natural pass that historically has linked the Gulf of Mexico with a number of bay systems, providing significant resources to a number of species that depend on tidal movement to reproduce and mature.

Previous efforts to reopen the pass have been fraught with issues, notably those involving funding. The ongoing effort to fund dredging, which began in April, has helped to now generate the necessary $9 million needed to begin work. CCA has helped provide more than $1.5 million of that total to date.

Other notable projects that the group has helped back and their contributions are:

  • 130-acre oyster restoration project in East Galveston Bay, $500,000
  • Nearshore artificial reefs out of Sargent, Freeport, Port Mansfield, Port O’Connor and Corpus Christi, $500,000
  • Marsh protection projects at San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge and J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area, $250,000

In total CCA-Texas has provided nearly $3.5 million since 2009 toward the protection and restoration of habitat for future anglers.

It also takes political clout to help push through conservation issues, something that CCA also has in its favor. The group has the ear of plenty of elected officials who carry sway and also has formed notable partnerships with state agencies such as Texas Parks & Wildlife and the General Land Office. CCA also has taken a rigid stance in the red snapper debate, ensuring that its resounding voice will be heard in the allocation of the recreational vs. commercial angler quota.

The organization’s grass-roots efforts also are focused on marsh restoration, a subject that also has drawn interest and aid from groups including Ducks Unlimited, and freshwater inflows, which continue to be a vital component of a healthy saltwater ecosystem.

There also has been substantial educational outreach, with the group giving $100,000 this year to the University of Texas Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, another partner in the mission of protection of habitat based on sound science and research.

Conservation issues have never been more important, especially as there is more demand to partake in recreational opportunities. The Texas coast has become a hotbed not only for fishing but also the concerns that come with an influx of traffic. CCA isn’t the only group that’s out there fighting to ensure sustainable fisheries and opportunities, but it is among the most successful, something that everyone involved with coastal habitat conservation should focus on and build upon in the future.

It has been proven that teamwork is vital to building a lasting framework when it comes to addressing future issues whether it’s related to sea grass, bag limits or any other topic that can bring up concerns among the masses. It’s up to the current generation to lay the foundation for future outdoor prospects, something that clearly is a responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

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