Special to SEGAZINE
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources continues to enhance offshore fishing opportunities with the recent deployment of materials at Artificial Reef KC – located 9 nautical miles east of Wassaw Island.
DNR staff coordinated the sinking of a 254-ft hopper barge loaded with 330 metal chicken transport cages at the popular reef site. The Coastal Conservation Association – Georgia (Sapelo Chapter) facilitated the donation of the transport cages by the Claxton Poultry Farms and the Savannah Steel Terminal/Georgia Recyclers contributed the barge, which weighs an estimated 580 tons. Staging for the materials and heavy equipment and crane work was provided by the East Coast Terminal Company in Savannah. The materials were prepared and towed to the site location by Savannah-based marine transportation company Biblia, Inc.
These materials will soon be colonized by barnacles, soft corals and sponges providing the basis of a food web that will attract larger saltwater gamefish such as grouper, flounder, black sea bass and king mackerel. Endangered sea turtles and other sea life also use these manmade reefs as foraging and resting habitat. 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 30 sites encompassing 52 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean designated for deployment of reef materials.