Palm Beach County Getting New Reef pods will boost bottom fishing habitats.
Nearly every year, massive discharges of heavily polluted water from Lake Okeechobee are pumped into the east and west coasts of central Florida for flood control, killing enormous areas of natural coral reef.
It’s a tragic loss of fish habitat, but thanks to an innovative new project by the Coastal Conservation Association, the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation, Viking Yachts and the Town of Jupiter, a bold new project hopes to create new reef habitat that will soon form a complex of world-class reef corridors off the coast of Palm Beach County.
Giant manufactured reef “pods” are being installed along a flat, featureless sand plain near the existing Zion Train, Miss Jenny and ESSO Bonaire “Wreck Trek” and will soon provide a specific habitat favored by a wide range of marine organisms. Within just two years, say planners, this lifeless sandy underwater plain will give rise to a robust, flourishing ecosystem.
“It will be very difficult to tell that this is anything but a natural reef within a few short months of deployment,” says Sean Stone, executive director of the CCA’s Building Conservation Trust, which is helping fund the project.
The individual reef “cells” that will soon rise 8 feet over the ocean floor promise to make a significant economic impact as well. Florida enjoys $4.4 billion in annual spending by anglers and divers that is directly associated with healthy reefs, and one study has estimated that every $1 invested in artificial reefs generates $130 in economic benefits.
It’s just one more example of anglers joining with divers, local governments and non-profit organizations to restore healthy fish habitat.
If you’d like to learn more about this exciting project — or if you’d be interested in contributing to the cause, visit the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation.