ST. MARY PARISH, La. (KLFY) — An artificial reef is being built off the coast of St. Mary Parish to replace habitat in Eugene Island Block 51 that was lost when oil and gas platforms were removed.

The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) REEF Louisiana Program will begin construction on the reef next week. The area used to be a prime speckled trout fishing spot before the oil and gas platforms were removed.

The reef will cover the footprint of the old platforms and will be designed to optimize the water and bottom conditions with hopes of creating the best possible fish habitat. The reef will be in roughly 17 feet of water, and the materials will be placed on the bottom to create up to 5 feet of elevation from the seafloor.

A variety of recycled concrete “materials of opportunity” will be used to build the reef. That includes hundreds of pipeline weights and concrete pilings that have been made available to CCA and approved for use on the project.

Construction will begin next week and should take seven to 10 days. Conservation partners Chevron, CCA’s Building Conservation Trust, and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, CCA’s REEF Louisiana program are working together on the project.

This is the eighth CCA REEF Louisiana Project, and the 32nd reef project by CCA Louisiana in recent years, representing more than $20 million in habitat creation.  It will be CCA’s ninth reef project built on the site of removed oil and gas platforms.  The first was the “Pickets Reef” complex in Ship Shoal Block 26 (built in 2014). In 2019, similar projects were completed in South Marsh Island Block 233 (The Ted Beaullieu, Sr. Reef Complex) and in Vermilion Blocks 119 & 124 (The Rawls Reef Complex). In 2021, CCA completed the “Green Monster Reef” in Plaquemines Parish, the Bay Marchand Block 3 Reef, the South Timbalier Block 51 Reef and the “Jack Cart Reef” in Vermilion Block 69. Earlier this year, CCA completed a new reef in W. Cameron Block 45. 

Funding for the Eugene Island Reef project comes from CCA Louisiana, Chevron, CCA’s Building Conservation Trust and LDWF’s Artificial Reef Trust Fund, as well as individual gifts from CCA REEF Louisiana Club members. In-kind donations are provided by Road Rock Recycling and DLS Construction.

CCA’s REEF Louisiana Program is working on plans for other new reefs, including projects at South Timbalier Block 165, West Delta Block 35, South Timbalier Block 77, Ship Shoal Block 28, Grand Isle Block 63, Vermilion River Block 69 and South Marsh Island Block 235. All of these projects are part of the REEF Louisiana Program, in which CCA, LDWF and our partners rebuild fisheries habitat on the sites of removed platforms. For more information about REEF Louisiana or to become a REEF Club Member, please contact David at 225-952-9200.

The unofficial center point is 29°14.853′ N, 91°41.875′ W. Once work is completed, CCA will publicize the official GPS coordinates for the reef centerpoint.