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Tag: bay county

Wakulla and Franklin County to Get More Artificial Reefs, Summer 2014

by on Jun.10, 2014, under Apalachicola, Carrabelle and St. George Island, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay, Shell Point to Lanark, Ochlockonee Bay, St. Marks, Aucilla and Econfina

By: Charlene Cristobal
June 9, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Wakulla and Franklin county will be getting some new underwater digs next week. Thanks to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Organization for Artificial Reefs (OAR), limestone structures from Orange Beach, Alabama will be coming in to create new homes for fish and wildlife off the coast.

The structures, about 15 feet tall and weigh over 18 tons, are about to make a landing in the Saint George Sound. Artificial reefs have been around Florida since about 1964, and next week another will take position.

FWC Spokesperson Amanda Nalley says, “We have several artificial reefs across Florida. Out of the 35 counties that are on the coast, 34 of them have an artificial reef program. Artificial reefs are a great opportunity for both increased fishing opportunities and increased diving opportunities.”

The FWC and OAR will put 41 triangle shaped structures in the water to create new homes for fish and wildlife in the area. According to experts, the reefs will usually start seeing life move in as soon as 30 days after installation. But the FWC and OAR also say that the reefs won’t just attract the fish…

“Most of our reefs are an attractant for people that both want to fish on them, as well as dive on them,” Nalley says. “They definitely do help bring tourism dollars into the state, when people travel here and go offshore to go fish these reefs.”

According to OAR’s Chairman Alan Richardson, “Studies show that for every dollar in reef development fund that have been expended, roughly $130 or so come back to the community in the form of tourist dollars. We’re hoping that this will help the economies of Franklin and Wakulla county.”

The running total for this project is about $125,000.

This particular reef is important to a local family. The Camp family will be naming the reef after their son Dixon, who passed away five years ago.

The reef’s install is set for sometime the week of June 15, 2014.

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Need Reef Information for Bay County Florida? Here’s a Good Link to ArcGIS Info

by on Jan.11, 2013, under Panama City, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay

It’s often hard to find specific information and GPS coordinates of reefs in the Gulf of Mexico.  Of course, there’s a listing for Bay County  in my book, The Saltwater Angler’s Guide to Florida’s Big Bend and Emerald Coast but many of us have a hard time putting a visual image together from a simple list.  Thanks to the folks at Florida Sea Grant Extension Service and ArcGIS, here’s a link to a website with an interactive map. Just click on the static image below and you’ll be taken to the interactive page.

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MBARA Goes After Big Reefs in 2013

by on Jan.01, 2013, under Apalachicola, Carrabelle and St. George Island, Destin and Ft. Walton Beach, Navarre, Pensacola and Perdido, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach and St. Joseph Bay

The Board of Directors of the Mexico Beach Artificial Reef Association are moving ahead full steam for 2013 to try and obtain fabulous new reefs like Coast Guard Cutters, bridge spans, and pre-fabricated concrete structures.   These will all be placed in currently permitted sites off the shores of Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach, Florida.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Grant

Twelve (12) new reefs are on the drawing board with a value of $80,000 which will be completed in early Spring.   The grant money will combine with matching funds raised by the MBARA from the Kingfish Tournament, sales of t-shirts, and donations.  The grant has been approved and is currently out for bids to come in on specifications of the project.

St. George Island Bridge Spans
We are working to raise three (3) bridge spans damaged by Tropical Storm Debby back in June of 2012.  We will raise them off of the floor of the bay, and then transport them to permitted sites in the Gulf of Mexico.  These spans are 55 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 7 feet tall.

Teaming with Bay and Gulf Counties
The MBARA is working diligently with officials from Bay and Gulf counties to try and build some significant artificial reefs using some of the NRDA (Natural Response Damage Assessment) and RESTORE ACT funds coming from monies paid out by BP due to the oil spill and its damaging effects on the environment and subsequent economic decline.  The funds in NRDA and RESTORE are different and will require different applications and priorities as established by local and state governmental agencies.

These plans include 4 Coast Guard Cutters, some underwater sculpture designs, and massive pre-fabricated concrete structures.

Artificial Reefs Have Million Dollar Impact
The economic impact will be substantial.  Building artificial reefs will bring millions to our local economy and thousands of jobs.

Who says so?  There are numerous studies that have been done in Florida that very vividly show how a local economy can benefit greatly from a well developed artificial reef program that will bring in thousands of visitors for fishing and diving.

In l998 Professors Bell, Bonn, and Leeworthy did a study on Northwest Florida to study the effect of the artificial reefs on the local economies.   They studied the five counties of Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay.   They found 414 million dollars in expenditures for fishing and diving related to artificial reefs.   That meant 8,136 jobs, 84 million in wages, with 359 million attributed to visitors.

In 2001 Johns, Leeworthy, Bell, and Bonn published a study of five counties if Southeast Florida including Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe.   What they found was that visitors spent l.7 billion dollars on fishing and diving related activities on artificial reefs which meant 27,000 jobs and 782 million in wages.

After the 2006 sinking of the USS Oriskany off of Pensacola,  over 4,200 dive trips were taken the first year.  In the two local counties of Escambia and Baldwin there were 3.6 million dollars in diving related expenditdures which meant 67 new full time jobs and l.4 million in local wages.

In 2006 the USS Vandenburg was sunk off of Key West.  This was found to produce 6.5 million in diving and fishing related expenditures, l05 full time jobs, and 3.2 million in income for local workers.

With so much money coming to our area in NRDA and RESTORE ACT funds, surely a part of that money can go to build large artificial reefs like 4 Coast Guard Cutters which will bring tourists to dive and fish which will translate to local wages, jobs, and and an increased tax base.  With millions of dollars coming soon to our area, it is essential that we use part of that money on projects that will produce jobs, boost our local economy, and grow our tax base.   Artificial reefs will do that.

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