CCA Louisiana and partners launch artificial reefing project to save famed Louisiana trout hotspot
The Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana, along with partners, Apache Corporation, Fieldwood Energy and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, began construction Tuesday on an artificial reef system in Ship Shoal 26, known by many Louisiana anglers as “the Pickets.”
The Pickets Reef is being constructed of roughly 14,000 tons of 4-inch limestone over three specially engineered artificial reefs. The reef is designed to protect depressions in the seafloor that were created by the prevailing current flowing around and through the Pickets. In doing so, the reefs will maintain and enhance these scour holes, while providing additional habitat for marine life.
“I’m from this area, and I have fished down here my whole life,” said Apache’s Tim Allen. “It makes me very proud for Apache to be a part of this project, because I know we are creating something that will benefit our coast and be enjoyed by anglers and their families for a long, long time.”
The Pickets Reef is the 10th reef of its kind to be funded through the Louisiana Artificial Reef Trust fund in cooperation with CCA Louisiana and is the 14th reef built by CCA Louisiana since 2004.
“There are a lot of moving parts on a project like this, and it is so satisfying to see it come together,” said David Cresson, executive director of CCA Louisiana. “Our partners in this project are incredibly dedicated to preserving the habitat at this site, and because of that, we are out here building this reef. We owe them all a great debt of gratitude.”
Fieldwood acquired Apache’s Gulf of Mexico shelf assets in 2013, including the Pickets structures and pilings located at Ship Shoal 26. As part of the acquisition, Fieldwood entered into a decommissioning agreement with Apache and was responsible for making sure the removal work at Ship Shoal 26, which is required by the federal government, was completed.
“Fieldwood was a late addition to the project; however, the opportunity to help turn this site into a great fishing reef for generations to come was an easy decision and we knew we wanted to help make it happen,” said Fieldwood’s vice president of Decommissioning John Seeger. “Rigs to Reef policy has had some positive changes recently and we look forward to partnering with the state of Louisiana, the community, CCA, BSEE and industry on similar projects moving forward.”
The $1.2 million project is being funded by Apache, Fieldwood, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Artificial Reef Trust Fund, and CCA’s Building Conservation Trust. The contractor for construction of the reefs, DLS Energy, and the company providing the materials for the reefs, G & H Barge, are providing significant in-kind services and materials for the project. Continuing support of CCA Louisiana’s Habitat Program is provided by the Paul Candies family.
“This project could be the first of many like this where new reefs are built in place of decommissioned oil and gas structures,” said CCA Louisiana’s Conservation and Habitat chairman, John Walther. “With more and more shallow water structures scheduled for removal, we will be working to identify similar opportunities in the future.”
The construction of the reef should take about three to four weeks to complete. Upon completion, marker buoys will be placed on the site so that anglers can locate the reefs. The center of the Pickets Reef is located at GPS coordinates 29° 06’ 26.7″ N, 91° 03’ 14.8” W.
CCA Louisiana is the largest marine resource conservation group of its kind in the state. In its 31st year with more than 30,000 members and volunteers in 26 local chapters, CCA has been active in state, national and international fisheries management issues since 1977. Visit WWW.CCALOUISIANA.COM for more information.