In 2015, the Alabama Marine Resources Division (AMRD) received a huge boost to their ongoing artificial reef efforts.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) awarded the AMRD with funds to help accelerate recovery and restoration efforts in Alabama’s coastal waters, which were imperiled by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill five years ago, including a $12.5 million grant specifically to expand and enhance Alabama’s artificial reef program.
The AMRD has had a very busy year since receiving these funds. 2016 developments in the artificial reefs program include:
- Placing an additional 50 “super pyramid” reefs to supplement previous pyramid reefs
- Restoring the decommissioned MP255 reef with the help of Fieldwood Energy as part of the Rigs-to-Reef project
- Deploying three huge barge loads of concrete pipe and culverts for refurbishing many existing reefs and constructing several new reefs
- Placing 125 artificial reef structures in the Vernon Minton Reef Zones with the help of CCA Alabama
- Refurbishing 14 existing inshore artificial reefs with over $2 million of new material
- Constructing two new large inshore artificial reefs in Mobile Bay on the relic Point Clear Oyster Reef as well as in Lower Mobile Bay at the site of a former Legacy Resources gas rig
- Contracting to construct the new Bernie Heggeman Memorial Reef on the site of the Blue Rig in Mississippi Sound in conjunction with CCA Alabama
- Contracting to construct a new 12-acre reef in Pelican Bay just south of Dauphin Island
- Working in tandem with the University of South Alabama to study new and refurbished artificial reefs and document the benefits of reef building in inshore waters
Alabama now has an impressive network of 36 inshore artificial reefs that stretch east to west from the Ono Reef in Old River near the Florida state line to the CCA #1 Reef at the West End of Dauphin Island.
“Alabama is already recognized as having the best artificial reef program in the country,” Blankenship said. “While we’ve already had success in our efforts, we will not rest on our laurels but will continue to be proactive in creating new habitat and economic opportunities for Coastal Alabama. I plan to enjoy fishing on the new and refurbished reefs in 2017 and beyond. I hope you will as well.”
The NFWF funds are part of a current three-year plan that represents phase one of a larger 10-year artificial reef program in conjunction with AWF and CCA.
“The Alabama Wildlife Federation made a significant investment in the Alabama Artificial Reef Plan because we knew it represented a project that was good for the state’s marine resources and good for the economy,” AWF President Angus R. Cooper III said. “The new investment the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is making to help implement the artificial habitat plan will amplify its many positive aspects.”