Department Of Marine Resources Targets Derelict Vessles - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/02/03

Department Of Marine Resources Targets Derelict Vessles

A rusting eyesore in the industrial canal is about to help improve sport fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Department of Marine Resources is removing derelict barges. The abandoned eyesores will soon become artificial fishing reefs.

A heavy duty crane tuged on a section of stubborn barge. Tons of rusting steel are embedded along the bank of the industrial canal. The heavy duty work is the first phase of a remarkable recycling project that will remove the derelict vessel.

 Irvin Jackson is with the Department of Marine Resources.

"All of them are eyesores. And also most of them impede navigation. And they're really unsightly. And it's difficult to know what to do with them, except what we're doing," he said.

What DMR is doing is transforming this marine debris into an artificial fishing reef. The project is a partnership with Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks.

"We have thirteen reef sites in the Gulf which creates habitat which increases the fish population which in turn has a snowball economic effect on the coast," said Jimmy Taylor of Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks.

Tidelands money is helping pay for the nearly ninety thousand dollar relocation/recycling project. The derelict barge is among more than a dozen the DMR has targeted.

"They're abandoned. And nobody will claim them. And aesthetically, not pleasing. And navigation hazards also," said the DMR's Kerwin Cuevas.

The rusted out hull will soon be sitting on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, just south of the barrier islands. It will be transformed from an eyesore into a fish habitat.

Old pieces of barge will make the perfect hideaway and feeding grounds for sport fish.

"Fish can swim in and out of it. It provides a lot of relief, which is the height off the bottom. Real good material," said Taylor.

It's not a bad future for something that has been an ugly pile of rusty steel, littering the industrial canal.

Earlier this week, the DMR removed a derelict barge from behind the Palace Casino. That vessel will also be towed into the Gulf and used as an artificial fishing reef.

By Steve Phillips

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