Marine fisheries and recreational angling off the coast of Jupiter, Florida, are set to get a boost this summer with the placement of 40 artificial reef cells in 88 feet of water. The CCA Building Conservation Trust has contributed $25,000 to the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation for the project, which will utilize innovative reefing materials to create a thriving new ecosystem.
“It will be very difficult to tell that this is anything but a natural reef within a few short months of deployment,” said Sean Stone,executive director of BCT. “This is the kind of exciting project that we are targeting to enhance the local marine environment and expand opportunities for anglers and divers. We are very proud to be a part of this partnership.”
The site for the project off Jupiter is currently flat, featureless sand plains near the existing Zion Train, Miss Jenny and ESSO Bonaire “Wreck Trek.” The new reef cells will rise up to eight feet off the sea floor and create interconnected cavities and surfaces exposed to sunlight and water current. The structures are designed to provide a specific habitat environment favored by a wide range of marine organisms so that where there is now only flat sand, a flourishing ecosystem will develop.
“From that area of the Florida coast anglers in all kinds of boats target a wide range of pelagics – everything from sailfish to amberjack – so the reef has the potential to make a noticeable impact as a destination for divers and anglers,” said JD Dickenson, CCA Florida Habitat Committee chairman. “With the reef acting as refuge for forage fish, there is no telling what will come to make a home at the new reef.”
The new reef site is expected to positively impact local economies by enticing anglers and divers who utilize local boat charters, hotels, restaurants and other amenities. According to Alan Richardson, chairman of the Organization for Artificial Reefs based in Tallahassee, Florida, for every dollar spent locally on an artificial reef, $138 comes back into local communities.
In addition to the Building Conservation Trust, the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation is partnering on the $78,000 project with Palm Beach County, the Town of Jupiter, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Palm Beach County Fishing Foundation, Jupiter Dive Center, and Pineapple Grove Designs.
Visit https://andrewredharrisfoundation.org for more information.
The Building Conservation Trust (BCT) was founded in 2010 as the national marine habitat program of Coastal Conservation Association. BCT is a 501c3 non-profit organization exclusively dedicated to providing funding for local, state and national fisheries, habitat conservation and restoration projects. BCT has created a model for the successful collaboration of business, non-profit organizations and government agencies to revitalize critical habitat and establish a vibrant foundation for the marine ecosystem.