The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) have completed construction on Independence Island Reef, believed to be the largest limestone inshore artificial reef project ever in Louisiana. Work crews finished the job on Monday afternoon.
“This project is the result of nearly two years of hard work and dedication by CCA volunteers, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and NOAA,” said David Cresson, CCA Louisiana Executive Director. “We are so appreciative of all of them for their incredible commitment to this important project. Anglers and their families will enjoy the benefits of this reef for generations.”
“The recreational fishing industry has sustained a number of challenges over the last six years – hurricanes, the Gulf oil spill and recent flood waters from the Mississippi River have and will continue to impact our inshore reefs along Louisiana’s coast,” said LDWF Assistant Secretary Randy Pausina. “Projects like this one are an essential component in restoring our recreational fisheries. We are incredibly grateful for Governor Jindal, Secretary Barham, CCA and of all our partners for their leadership in what is an essential effort to rebuild areas along our coast that have been damaged by erosion.”
Nearly 8,000 tons of limestone were dropped from barges onto four acres about three miles Northeast of Grand Isle, where Independence Island was once located. The total site acreage is more than 50 acres. The center of the reef is located at 29° 18′ 26.98″ N, -89° 56′ 01.01″W and will be marked by several mooring buoys. The buoys will be deployed later this month.
Cresson also thanked a number of additional partners who helped make the project possible, namely Shell Oil Company, The Paul Candies Family, Vulcan Materials and Bertucci Contractors.
“Without their generosity and their commitment to conservation, this project would not have been possible,” Cresson said.
Shell Oil Company made a lead gift to CCA’s Building Conservation Program and helped announce the project last December.
“Shell is proud to have been part of this project through CCA’s Building Conservation Program,” said John Hollowell, Executive Vice President, Deep Water for Shell Upstream Americas. “Shell remains committed to the Gulf Coast and to the people who live there, so the Independence Island Reef project was a great way for us to give back.”
Funding for the project was also made available through LDWF’s Artificial Reef Development Fund. CCA Conservation Committee Chairman John Walther says he expects the reef to start holding fish in the coming months.
“Reefs we have built in the past have proven to provide great habitat for our favorite species, like speckled trout and redfish,” said Walther. “I expect anglers will be landing nice catches from the new reef before the end of the summer.”
The CCA Building Conservation Program was created to provide funding for local, state and national marine fisheries and habitat conservation and restoration projects. Program funds are directed to CCA state chapters for grassroots-driven projects.
“Building Conservation combines the grassroots strength of CCA with the resources of Shell to allow our members to take the program to new levels,” said Pat Murray, CCA president. “It is an exciting time in marine conservation, and the restoration projects that will come from this initiative will play a key role in the enhancement of Gulf resources for today’s anglers, and for generations of anglers to come.”
For more information on the CCA Building Conservation Habitat Program, visit the Building Conservation section of the CCA Newsroom, www.JoinCCA.org.