Crews clearing boat set to become part of artificial reef - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Crews clearing boat set to become part of artificial reef

The derelict vessel is set to become part of artificial reef. (Photo source: WLOX) The derelict vessel is set to become part of artificial reef. (Photo source: WLOX)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

After years sailing the open water, preparations are underway for a 55-foot steel hull boat to sustain the same seas it once sailed. 

Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks is a non-profit organization that has been enhancing fishing and diving sites in the Gulf of Mexico for nearly 50 years. President Ralph Humphrey says that dedication to conservation is helping Gulf wildlife in Mississippi thrive.

"It makes an ecosystem off the Coast of Mississippi, unlike Florida," Humphrey said, "Florida has a lot of natural limestone and coral. We have a mud sand bottom, and there is no ecosystem unless you have an oil rig. They've been building reefs out here since the 70s now."

The current project was a derelict vessel salvaged from Jackson County in 2016. Now, crews are working to ready the vessel to become a part of the fishing reef south of Horn Island.

"Our intent right now is to sink this at one of our fish havens south of Horn Island, within nine miles of Horn Island, and the reason for that is the state of Mississippi has recently allowed us to fish for red snapper during the summer. They have a state season as opposed to a federal season that's only three days long this year," said Humphrey.

Alva Bennett has been a member of MGFB since the 90s and says he's seen the artificial reefs work to sustain the fish population.

"We've got a guy who does dive reports, dives on our different sites. He has a presentation every meeting and shows where the fish are, where the fish aren't," said Bennett, "We've done a lot of boats, barges, and stuff and they seem to be a good spot."

MGFB hopes to be ready to put the vessel in the water by the end of June.

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