Culture of Spotted Seatrout for a Pilot Stocking Program
This project, a partnership between GCRL and the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, is testing the effectiveness of using hatchery-raised fish to enhance Mississippi's seatrout population. The spotted seatrout, Cynoscion nebulosus, known locally as speckled trout, is one of Mississippi’s premier sport fishes.
Need for Program
- As human populations increase, greater pressure is placed on marine fisheries resources through habitat destruction and demand for food and recreation.
- Two-thirds of harvested marine species for which data exist are either at or below the levels required for sustainability.
- Marine resource management agencies are seeking reliable procedures for enhancing populations of heavily fished species and for assessing the success and value of stocking programs.
Marine Aquaculture and Fisheries at GCRL
- Since 1969 the GCRL has been involved in the development of culture and stocking programs for recreational finfish species including the striped bass, Morone saxatilis, and more recently the red snapper, Lutjanus campechanus.
- GCRL research has built a knowledge base about spotted seatrout age and growth, reproduction and seasonal movements. http://www.usm.edu/gcrl/fisheries_center/fisheries.research.php
- GCRL has developed a strong relationship with recreational anglers, especially through enlisting volunteer anglers in tag-and-release programs.
Seatrout Culture at GCRL
The goal of the project is to develop the methods to acquire, maintain and spawn broodstock of spotted seatrout in order to facilitate production, rearing, tagging, releasing and assessing of juveniles in a stocking program.
We began developing the seatrout program in 2004 with Tidelands Trust Funds administered by the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.
- Collected broodstock animals and successfully transported them to GCRL facilities,
- Developed a quarantine facility and protocol to ensure the good health of broodstock animals,
- Developed long-term holding and maturation facilities,
- Placed two tanks of 20 fish each (ten males and 10 females) on a temperature and photoperiod cycle that induced natural spawning during the summer of 2006 and resulted in the production of over 18 million eggs,
- Implemented production and enrichment systems for live feeds (algae, rotifers, Artemia, and copepods) to produce food for seatrout larvae,
- Developed and implemented a larval rearing system that in 2006 produced approximately 40,000 70-day-old juveniles,
- Tagged approximately 21,000 fish with coded-wire tags, and
- Released approximately 21,000 tagged fish at two sites in the vicinity of GCRL.
- Furthering the understanding of the biology of spotted seatrout,
- Development of the technology to sustain important resources,
- Strengthening the relationship with recreational anglers and conservation groups, and
- Laying a foundation for future economic development through marine aquaculture and stock enhancement.
This project is the initial effort of the Seatrout Population Enhancement Cooperative (SPEC), launched at a workshop held in May 2004 at Gulf Hills Hotel and Conference Center in Ocean Springs.
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Milestones in the Growth and Development of Seatrout Cultured at GCRL
We thank the members of the Mississippi Legislature who provided funding for this initiative through the state's Tidelands Program. We also thank the Mississippi Coast Conservation Association for their continued support for this work.