Work begins on new artificial reef off Cameron coast to provide habitat

Published 6:03 am Friday, June 28, 2024

Construction of a new artificial reef in the nearshore waters of Cameron Parish began on Wednesday.

The East Cameron Block 82 Reef will soon provide a vital habitat for “countless species” of marine life, including recreational angler species like red snapper, mangrove and cobia.

This is the 51st artificial reef that the Coastal Conservation Association’s REEF Louisiana Program – an initiative that aims to replace lost habitat where oil and gas platforms have been removed – has constructed, said CCA Louisiana Executive Vice President of Development Rad Trascher.

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Their main mission is to restore and maintain the Sportsman’s Paradise that makes the state so unique.

“We’re losing habitat at an alarming rate, some of that is due to coastal erosion and subsidence, some of that is due to federal policy removing oil and gas platforms,” he explained. “So we’re doing everything at CCA to maintain that habitat and build as much as we can to create a healthy ecosystem.”

This is one of the first artificial reefs that has been constructed off the shore of Cameron Parish, he said.

The REEF program often takes “materials of opportunity” from old oil and gas platforms, like old catch basins, road debris and recycled concrete. One time, they used three repurposed helipads, he said.

The East Cameron Block 82 Reef is being constructed with 45 precast, man-made concrete reef modules. They will be installed in 60 feet of water and laid out in columns and rows to “optimize bottom contours and water conditions.”

CCA has been building reefs for 20 years. About five years ago, a group of concerned anglers decided that more work needed to be done to preserve offshore habitats. They created a program where local anglers, biologists, government agencies and private industries can work together to complete projects.

CCA Louisiana, the Cheniere Foundation, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Romeo Papa Boats and E&L Construction Group worked together to organize and fund the construction of the new artificial reef.

Cheniere Foundation Manager Amy Miller said that the partnership has been easy because of their aligned goals.

“Our goals for environmental stewardship, to protect our waterways, to enrich the marine habitat and the marine ecosystem,” she said.

The Cheniere Foundation believes that the reef will not only benefit locals and recreational fishermen, but also boost tourism in the area.

“We want to see people come visit Cameron Parish.”

Robert Perez, President of Romeo Papa, noted the long-term positive effects of artificial reef development.

“We’re building reefs not only now, but for the future of all the fishermen here in the state of Louisiana.”

Romeo Papa provided in-kind labor. Materials were provided by E&L Construction Group.

The project cost over $250,000. Funds were provided by the Cheniere Foundation, the CCA Reef Louisiana Program and matching funds from the LDWF Artifical Reef Trust Fund.