Whether you’re goin’ on a coastal adventure or drinkin’ a SweetWater Goin’ Coastal – jumping off the grid and going island hopping has always been a passion of ours here at SweetWater. Since day one, our very own Big Kahuna, Freddy Bensch, has been a vocal supporter of protecting and preserving our coastline and the vast amount of fish that call these places home… And damn if we don’t love to hook a big one!
From the fish to the fisherman to the community, these ecosystems are all connected and we here at SweetWater want to play our part in their protection. That’s why we love teaming up with the good folks at Coastal Conservation Association, who work to conserve, promote, and enhance coastal resources for the enjoyment of everyone. We’ve been partnering with CCA since 2016 and supporting their National Habitat Program, Building Conservation Trust, through SweetWater’s “Save our Water” Campaign. Since 1977, CCA has been ensuring the health and conservation of our marine resources and anglers’ access to them.
We connected with Robert Taylor, Director of State Development at CCA, to hear more about what they’re working on when they’re not reelin’ in a redfish or sippin’ on a SweetWater. Among its many initiatives nationwide, CCA is leading the way in restoring hundreds of acres of marsh habitat, a project that’s critical as these ecosystems face new and intensifying challenges.
“CCA has worked to restore marsh and reef habitats that have been degraded by severe weather events, pollution, and other external influences,” Taylor states. “Our habitat program improves the nearshore marine environment while increasing anglers’ access to gamefish so that everyone can continue to enjoy these resources.” With SweetWater’s support of CCA’s habitat program, donations will go towards building artificial reefs along with restoring marsh habitat, ultimately providing a sustainable ecosystem for guides, anglers, and the community who’s livelihood depends on these resources.
CCA’s initiatives to conserve our marine resources, specifically their work with hatcheries along the Texas coast, proved especially important after the February Freeze Event of 2021 that killed nearly four million fish off the coast of Texas. “We reacted quickly after the freeze, releasing tens of millions of Speckled Trout, Redfish, and Flounder fingerlings back into our bay systems and we will also continue building and restoring hundreds of acres of oyster reefs and marsh wetlands through our habitat program,” Taylor explains. “Restoring habitats through marsh grass plantings, oyster bed restoration, and shoreline stabilization will help create a healthier ecosystem for generations to come.”
Even though 91% of the fish that were killed weren’t gamefish, they’re still essential to the health of this fishery. “If you don’t have a strong forage base you won’t have a strong predator base, because the big fish won’t have anything to eat. The whole food chain needs to be complete to sustain a robust fishery ecosystem – from the smallest fish all the way to the gamefish that we as anglers seek out.”
What can you do to help? According to Taylor “anglers can and will make the difference in the speed of this recovery – personal accountability for our individual actions will have a cumulative effect. Practice “keep whatcha eat” or “CPR” (catch, photo, release). Also, get involved with your local CCA chapter by joining CCA and supporting their work of ensuring the health and conservation of our marine resources and anglers’ access to them.
So next time you’re out fishin’, leave ‘em better than ya found ‘em!