Raising Fish at MFEC
Scientists at the FWC Marine Fisheries Enhancement Center in Apollo Beach, FL spawn adults captured in the wild, incubate the developing eggs and larvae, and grow the larvae to juveniles indoors using recirculating aquaculture systems. Hatchery reared fish are harvested from tanks and released to assess the impacts of stocking hatchery-reared fish into the wild.
Most of the hatchery-reared animals are stocked into estuaries in habitats suitable for their survival. Stocked fish have DNA unique to their parents which FWC scientists use to identify them if captured. Larger fish can be marked prior to release with external streamer tags for more visible identification. Hatchery-reared fish that are captured are used by researchers to determine survival rates, growth rates, diet, health, migration, and contribution to the fishery.