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Marine Fisheries Enhancement Center

blue sign in front of a green building

The FWC Marine Fisheries Enhancement Center (MFEC) is home to FWC Marine Fisheries Stock Enhancement Research program. The MFEC is located at the Florida Conservation and Technology Center (FCTC) in Apollo Beach, FL.

The MFEC includes an indoor fish hatchery and laboratories designed for spawning and growing fish for stock enhancement and to conduct research that improves techniques to grow healthy fish. The hatchery has eight large tanks for spawning redfish and spotted seatrout and is expanding to add six large tanks to grow juvenile redfish and spotted seatrout from eggs spawned at the MFEC. The fish grown at the MFEC are released into estuaries within Florida. Also, the MFEC has two wet labs to conduct experimental research to improve hatchery methods and answer key questions of fish biology.

The MFEC uses recirculating aquaculture systems which filter and reuse water to provide environmental and biological control of the growing conditions to optimize fish growth, health, and survival. Unique to the MFEC and its partners at the FCTC is the use of saltwater from a deep aquifer for growing and rehabilitating marine life. The saltwater from the aquifer requires removal of excess dissolved calcium using a novel approach for the healthy growth of much of the marine life grown at the FCTC.

The FCTC is a unique partnership between Tampa Electric Company, The Florida Aquarium, University of Florida, and FWC to share conservation missions, conduct conservation research, use aquaculture for restoration of marine fish and invertebrates (such as corals), and rehabilitate sea turtles. The site also promotes and explains conservation and responsible use of our natural environments through youth education programs and self-guided interpretive tours of the trails and centers on site. The public can view facilities and programming at the MFEC, Suncoast Youth Conservation Center, and Florida Aquarium – Center for Conservation between November 1 - April 15 each year.

The MFEC is under construction now and FWC is planning to begin operating as soon as construction is completed.