Mote raises and releases largest number of hatchery-reared red drum in its history
Mote’s Aquaculture and Fisheries Ecology & Enhancement Programs worked together to successfully raise 20,000 red drum fish –and plan to release all the fish in Sarasota and Charlotte counties this month with the goal of replenishing red drum populations that have been negatively affected by events such as cold stuns and Florida red tide. This effort represents the largest number of red drum produced in the program’s 25-year history for the purpose of fisheries conservation efforts.
On June 22 Mote Marine Laboratory scientists released approximately 1,800 of the 20,000 red drum into Phillippi Creek on Sarasota Bay as part of an ongoing partnership with Salt Strong designed to find the most effective methods to replenish and enhance red drum populations. The rest of the fish will be released later this month.
With support from Salt Strong*, Mote was able to produce and release its largest number of red drum yet with fish that tip the scales at 6-10” in length to boost survival of the stocked fish, enable monitoring their post-release behavior, and help promote sustainable fisheries.
The species is one of Florida’s most popular sport fish and plays an important role in drawing recreational anglers to the state. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida is the top-ranked state in economic output from recreational fishing, which draws $13.8 billion to the economy annually. Saltwater fishing alone generates 67 percent — $9.2 billion — of that income.
Prior to the release in Southwest Florida, the red drum were spawned and reared at Mote’s Aquaculture Research Park (MAP) – a 200-acre facility where a team of scientists focus on conservation and cultivation of marine finfish, bivalves, crustaceans, and aquatic plants in land-based recirculating systems.