Review of Red Drum Stock Enhancement In Texas
Robert R. Vega*, William H. Neill, and David Abrego
CCA Marine Development Center
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD)
4300 Waldron Road
Corpus Christi, TX 78418
Decline of Texas red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) during the 1970s prompted TPWD to implement a recovery plan. Included were (1) fishery-independent monitoring to assess stock status; (2) restrictive regulations to reduce fishing pressure; and, (3) development and implementation of an enhancement program based on the release of hatchery-reared fingerlings. Since 1983, over 638 million hatchery-reared red drum fingerlings have been released into Texas bays.
TPWD fishery managers have used a number of methods to evaluate the success of hatcheries in enhancing red drum populations. Recently, the focus has been on use of natural microsatellite-DNA markers. Analysis of the DNA studies indicates that the contribution from stocked hatchery fish has ranged from 0 to 18%. As would be expected, the efficacy of the stock enhancement program has varied widely, both from year to year and from bay to bay.
TPWD’s long-term management plan using hatcheries to supplement natural recruitment, in concert with traditional management tools, has played a crucial role in the rebound of the red drum population to near-record highs. Now, finally, the technology is at hand to determine not only that stocking works, in the case of red drum in Texas, but also how to make it work better.