onor Recognition Wall

In the 1970's and early 1980's, red drum along the Texas Gulf Coast were in serious trouble. A series of extreme winters combined with commercial and recreational over‑harvest had decimated red drum populations. When hatchery production of red drum at TPWD’s other marine hatcheries reached maximum capacity, it became evident for the need for an additional facility. As a result, an alliance was formed between private industry, a conservation group, and a government agency. This unique team of The Dow Chemical Company, the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), and TPWD combined their resources, began formulating plans to help in the recovery of this species.

Sea Center Texas Donor Recognition Wall
Donor Recognition Wall

A strategy soon evolved. A satellite red drum maturation pond would be built at Dow’s Plant A site. This facility would take advantage of surplus larvae (newly hatched red drum) from the John Wilson Fish Hatchery in Corpus Christi (now the CCA/Central Power & Light (CPL) Marine Development Center). These larvae would be raised to fingerlings in the satellite pond and distributed throughout Texas coastal waters. The first pond was completed in September 1985 and stocked with red drum larvae. In November, the pond was harvested with a record production of fingerlings. This success was attributed to the superb water quality in the Brazosport area and the team’s hard work. Soon, three more red drum ponds were constructed at Dow's Plant A. Through 1995, over 45 million fingerlings were produced and stocked throughout the Texas Gulf Coast from these satellite ponds.

The team began exploring other ways to help. A plan was conceived to construct a red drum hatchery in Lake Jackson, Texas. The idea expanded to include an education center and the concept of Sea Center Texas was born.

In order to make Sea Center Texas a reality, each of the partners assumed very specific responsibilities. Dow donated 60 acres of land (later expanded to 75 acres), CCA donated seed moneys of 1.1 million dollars, and TPWD directed the design and construction of the facility. Because the donations from Dow and CCA were specifically allocated to the recovery of red drum, these donations qualified for federal matching funds under the Sport Fish Restoration Program (Dingell‑Johnson/Wallop‑Breaux fund). The program collects moneys through a federal tax on the sales of sporting goods, boats, and motor boat fuels for the express purpose of funding qualifying sport fish restoration projects.

Finally, through a public bond election, the citizens of Lake Jackson approved funding for the construction of a bridge across the Lake Jackson‑Clute Drainage Canal. This bridge was essential to the success of this project, as it would connect the hatchery site to Plantation Drive, the primary roadway to Sea Center Texas. The combined resources of Dow, CCA, TPWD, and the Sport Fish Restoration Program in conjunction with the support of the local community allowed construction of the facility to begin in January 1994. With a construction budget of 13 million dollars, Phase I of Sea Center Texas was completed in 1996 and Phase II in 1997.

Sea Center Texas, which opened in 1996, is a multi-million dollar, state-of-the-art marine finfish hatchery and education center developed through a partnership between Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, The Dow Chemical Company, and the Coastal Conservation Association. Each year over 60,000 visitors are entertained and educated by the facility’s 75,000 gallons of aquariums, interactive touch tank display, wetlands exhibit, youth fishing pond, and hatchery. Additionally, the hatchery annually produces some 15-20 million juvenile redfish and speckled trout for release into Texas coastal waters. 

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