Mote Marine Lab studying Florida mullet fishery
In southwest Florida, cured mullet roe called bottarga fetches higher prices than the fish producing it, and sometimes unused fish are left after bottarga is sold. Now, Mote Marine Laboratory scientists are investigating how to turn excess mullet into food for fish farms, to benefit mullet fishermen along with the fish farming, or aquaculture, industry.
Mote is launching the second phase of this study now, with help from a generous supporter, Ed Chiles, CEO and owner of the Chiles Restaurant Group, which includes Sandbar, Beach House and Mar Vista Restaurants, whose menus and features showcase mullet, bottarga and other local underutilized species.
The Chiles Restaurant Group worked with fishermen based in Cortez, Florida, to procure and donate 600 pounds of frozen mullet to Mote scientists on April 17.
During the project’s first phase in 2015-2017, Mote scientists and the research arm of Zeigler Brothers, a commercial aquatic feeds company, formulated and tested their first mullet-based feed with freshwater sturgeon raised at Mote Aquaculture Research Park in Sarasota County.
Photo: Robert Baugh, Chiles Group COO, helps deliver mullet to Mote Aquaculture Research Park. Credit: Conor Goulding/Mote Marine Laboratory