Constructions Begins on 18 Artificial Reefs

This week the Department of Maine Resources and the Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks are building 18 artificial reefs. The inshore reefs are meant to attract different species of fish, while at the same time increasing their numbers.

A 110x 40 spud barge deployed tons of limestone near the Ocean Springs bridge Tuesday. A spud barge can pivot and rotate around a central spot, this makes the job of the bulldozer easier, as they dump out the stone.

"They'll move the barge around while we deploy the material, this gives us a good, even desperation of the material," DMR Biologist Kerwin Cuevas said.

Limestone is coarse material, which they'll use around piers, bridges, and boat ramps.

They call these inshore reefs because they're close to shore. The water depth is about eight feet.

"It's close to inshore where small boaters can use them, people in skiffs can utilize them, people on the pier can utilize them and some wade fisherman can utilize them," Cuevas said.

"I think it's going to help them a lot because it's proven off shore that, we get good fish when there's something on bottom for them to go around," DMR Technician Bryant Klein said.

The limestone creates a hard bottom on the sea floor that shellfish attach to, this in turn, attracts the fish.

"It creates a live, viable reef invertebrates and vertebrates alike so what happens is the small fish use it for hiding places and it attracts bigger fish and attracts bigger fish," Cuevas said.

That continuous goal of reef building is to create habitats where fish can live and breed, but because of the way our oceans work this is a never ending endeavor.

"Unless you keep replacing it with new material, it's basically, the mud and the silt is gonna cover it back over," Klein said.

A job this DMR tech, says he loves to do over.

"I love my job, I got the best job in the world," Klein said.

With the addition of these new reefs, the three coast counties now have 44 inshore reefs.

At the end of the construction of these reefs, their GPS locations will be posted on the DMR website.