At a reception earlier this month at the University of South Alabama, CCA Alabama announced its support of two programs in the University’s Department of Marine Sciences (USADMS) that will advance knowledge of marine sportfish now and in the future. With a donation of $20,000 for a cobia tagging and research program, and $20,000 for the USADMS Student Benefit Fund, CCA Alabama affirmed its commitment to enhancing conservation-based science for the benefit of marine resources and recreational anglers.
“These donations are at the core of CCA’s Science of Conservation Program, and we are proud to partner with a marine science leader such as the University of South Alabama to improve the sustainability of our amazing coastal resources,” said Matt Grant, CCA Alabama State Chairman. “We are excited about the potential of the cobia tagging program to further understanding of one of the most popular game fish on the Gulf Coast, and we hope our support of the Student Benefit Fund will help graduate students reach their full potential and become tomorrow’s leaders in the challenging field of marine science.”
CCA created the Science of Conservation as a national program to bring together anglers, marine science centers and industry to provide financial support for scholarships and projects that will ultimately improve understanding of the marine environment and enhance the role that recreational anglers play as stewards of our shared marine resources.
“We’ve had tremendous success collaborating with marine science institutes in the past, and the Science of Conservation Program will create continued opportunities in the future,” said Patrick Murray, president of CCA National. “These two endeavors at the University of South Alabama are the kinds of investment in the future that we envisioned when we created the Science of Conservation, and we are excited about what they will produce.”
The University of South Alabama’s Marine Science Student Benefit Fund helps cover expenses encountered by graduate students as they travel for their research and attend/present at conferences, as well as other costs associated with work necessary for their advanced degrees.
“It allows us to fund a diversity of thesis and dissertation topics, from basic oceanography to fisheries ecology,” said Dr. Sean Powers, Chair, USA Marine Sciences. “The fund gives a tremendous return on investment. From modest grants of $1,000 to $3,000, graduate projects can be completed and careers made.”
CCA Alabama’s donation to the cobia tagging program will help fill in the blanks on cobia migration routes to and from the Central Gulf of Mexico, as well as their discard mortality when caught and released. The project will use MiniPAT Tags that are a combination of archival and ARGOS satellite technology. It will allow researchers to track the movements and behavior of a fish that does not spend enough time at the surface to allow for use of real-time ARGOS satellite tags. Updates on the findings will be made available to the public as the data becomes available.
“Cobia are amazing fish, and their great ability to migrate coupled with their very rapid growth make it a wonderful, but challenging species to study,” said Dr. Powers. “With the assistance of CCA Alabama, we will be able to tag five fish with tags that will give us information on migration and discard mortality.”
CCA Alabama’s conservation efforts are funded in part by local chapter banquets across the state and from proceeds from the Saltwater Fishing CCA AL license plate sales. “We couldn’t have done this without the hard work and dedication of our members from across the state,” said Blakeley Ellis, CCA Alabama Executive Director. “Projects like these are exactly what CCA Alabama is all about.”
From left – Grey Cane (CCA AL), Wesley Blacksher (CCA AL), Reid Nelson (Graduate Student, USA Marine Sciences), Blakeley Ellis (Executive Director, CCA AL), Matt Grant (State Chairman, CCA AL), Dr. Andrzej Wierzbicki (Dean, USA College of Arts and Sciences), Dr. Sean Powers (Chair, USA Marine Sciences), April Depaola (CCA AL), Dr. David Johnson (Provost, USA)