Alabama Power and the Marine Resources Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources are working together to provide a new place to fish off the Alabama coast.
The partners have been working together on a new artificial reef that will be located in the Gulf of Mexico about 25 miles south of Dauphin Island. The large reef is made up of two, 200,000-pound boilers recently removed from Alabama Power facilities in Washington County and Theodore, plus a 195-foot barge that will be sunk along with the boilers. The old boilers were recently replaced with new equipment as a part of regularly scheduled maintenance at the facilities. The barge is being provided by Cooper/T. Smith.
“While Alabama Power has a long history of partnering with organizations that promote and enhance the environment, this marks the first time that Alabama Power has been involved in a reef project,” said Alabama Power Vice President of Environmental Affairs Susan Comensky.
“We are very pleased to partner with the Marine Resources Division to create this reef that will provide not only a quality habitat for marine life, but also a first-class fishing area.”
“It has been our pleasure to work with Alabama Power on this reef project,” said Angus R. Cooper III, president of operations for Cooper T./Smith. “Alabama Power has always been a leader in water quality and wildlife conservation and the company has done many great things for the state in these areas.
“Through my involvement as president of Alabama Wildlife Federation, I have had the privilege of knowing about many of these initiatives, but this is the first time that we have had the opportunity to collaborate on a project like this. I am looking forward to seeing the ecosystem that this reef produces,” Cooper added.
Over the past few months, Alabama Power has been working closely with the Marine Resources Division to clean the boilers, cut additional holes in the structures and prepare them for their new home in the Gulf of Mexico. The Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) helped develop the idea for the project.
“Alabama’s Marine Resources Division has been a leader for decades with inshore and offshore artificial reef systems,” said AWF Executive Director Tim L. Gothard. “The Alabama Wildlife Federation firmly believes that properly engineered artificial reefs provide ecological benefits and unique fishing opportunities for anglers – a true win-win. We were glad to partner with the Marine Resources Division and Alabama Power on this new reef project.”
“This is the type of public/private partnerships that we need more of in our country,” added Chris Blankenship, Director of the Marine Resources Division. “This will be one of the largest reefs we have constructed. I am very thankful to work with Alabama Power, and I hope this is the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership to provide environmentally friendly fisheries habitats.”
While it takes a few years for the reefs to become fully established, fish will begin frequenting them after only a few days. The coordinates for the new reef will be: 29 47.544 87 59.104. The reef is scheduled to be deployed Sept. 26.
On Sept. 13, the reef received a final inspection and approval to be deployed by Marine Resources Division personnel. This week, the boilers are being moved from the company’s facility at Theodore to a nearby ship channel where they will be launched.
You can find out more about the Marine Resources Division by visiting its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AlabamaMarineResourcesDivision/.