Enhanced reef to offer better saltwater fishing opportunities

A barge filled with steel trusses and other post-industrial materials is sank Dec. 23, 2018, off the coast of Georgia.
Brunswick, Ga.
Friday, December 28, 2018

The Coastal Resources Division (CRD) of Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continued to enhance offshore fishing opportunities with the addition of materials at Artificial Reef KC­­ located 9 nautical miles east of Wassaw Island on Dec 23, 2018.

DNR staff coordinated the sinking of a 120-foot flat deck barge loaded with 43 tons of trusses and other post-industrial use metal structures at the popular reef site. The materials were prepared and sunk at (31°49.522’N / 80°47.015’W) in 45’ of water. Barge and metal structures were donated by Central Equipment Co. of Savannah and by Savannah Bulk Terminal. Staging for the materials and heavy equipment and crane work was provided by the East Coast Terminal Co.

These materials will soon be colonized by barnacles, soft corals and sponges providing the basis of a food web that will support larger saltwater gamefish such as grouper, flounder, Black Sea Bass and King Mackerel.

Cameron Brinton, a marine biologist with CRD’s Habitat Enhancement and Restoration Unit, said the reef’s variety of materials deployed at this site attract a wide range of fish.

“This new barge and the other vessels at KC create eddies in the water that small fish school in and attract large predators like Great Barracuda,” Brinton said. “The lower profile materials have lots of crevasses that are great for juvenile and small reef fishes.”

DNR staff will monitor the site annually using side-scan sonar and diver surveys to document the structural integrity of the materials, as well as the fish and invertebrate abundance and diversity.

Georgia’s artificial reef project is made possible by Georgia fishing license funds, Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration, grants from organizations such as the Georgia Natural Resources Foundation, private donations, and partnerships with local organizations that are interested in enhancing offshore fishing and diving opportunities.  Currently, there are 31 sites in the Atlantic Ocean off Georgia designated for deployment of reef materials.  

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Media members: Members of the media who would like to learn more about CRD’s Habitat Enhancement and Restoration Unit, or other coastal projects, may contact Tyler Jones, CRD communications specialist, at 912-262-3140 or tyler.jones@dnr.ga.gov.

The Coastal Resources Division of Georgia DNR is the state agency entrusted to manage Georgia’s coastal marshes, beaches, waters and fisheries for the benefit of present and future generations. The mission of the Department of Natural Resources is to sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources for present and future generations while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce and industry that utilize sound environmental practices.