The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) Artificial Reef Program is currently in the process of seeking a permit for the largest nearshore artificial reefing site to date in Texas waters. This site will be located north of the Brownsville Jetties and within easy reach of the local recreational fishermen. CCA Texas has been a longtime proponent of nearshore reefing and at its August Executive Board meeting, the Executive Board approved a $100,000 commitment to the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) Nearshore Reef at the request of CCA Texas’s Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT). With this commitment, CCA Texas has now contributed $800,000 to nearshore reefing projects in Texas and is actively seeking other funds for the nearshore reefing program from outside sources. In addition to these funds and others currently being pursued, CCA’s national habitat program, Building Conservation Trust (BCT), has also tentatively approved an additional $100,000 to the Rio Grande Valley project pending final approvals. With the final approval of these funds, CCA’s total commitment will then be approaching $1.0 million dollars to nearshore reefing in Texas.
“CCA Texas is committed to helping TPWD provide easily accessible nearshore fishing sites for the recreational anglers of Texas,” commented Jay Gardner, CCA Texas HTFT Committee Chairman. Gardner continued, “Not only is TPWD providing close proximity nearshore fishing sites, but they are also creating much needed Gulf habitat that is being removed at alarming rates with the removal of nearshore wells and rigs.”
With this commitment to the Rio Grande Valley nearshore site, CCA Texas has now taken an active role in six nearshore sites along the Texas coast. These sites include Freeport Vancouver, Matagorda, Port O’Connor, Corpus Christi, Port Mansfield and Rio Grande Valley. CCA Texas has been involved in these projects in many ways. CCA Texas has helped identify and secure reefing materials, secure temporary storage facilities for materials, managed the transportation of materials and also just supplied funds that allowed projects to be expanded. CCA Texas is committed to the vision of Texas having a nearshore reef out of every port in Texas. With the upcoming approvals for permitted nearshore sites out of Galveston and Sabine by TPWD, this vision is a fast approaching reality. This is not only a vision, but an effort that CCA Texas will continue to support both financially and with volunteer efforts.
The RGV nearshore reefing site will be unique in many ways, the most telling is its size. TPWD is seeking a permit approval for 1,650 acres, making it the largest permitted nearshore site in Texas. CCA Texas, local recreational fishermen, local academia and community leaders met with TPWD in early 2015 to pitch a new nearshore site for South Texas. Strong leadership and support from the local recreational fishing community as well as a lot of up-front data collection and planning was very telling at this meeting. TPWD supported the idea and was impressed with the efforts of the local community and began the permitting process almost immediately. The long term vision of this site is to have low relief materials in the reef site for the small marine life and fish and higher relief materials such as pre-constructed pyramids for higher relief habitat and larger fish, thus creating a “life-cycle” reef. Long term visions also include sinking a large vessel for habitat and diving opportunities.
“Recreational fishermen in the valley are excited to have a new nearshore site with easy access for fishing and what we feel will offer excellent fishing opportunities for many species,” commented local fisherman Bob Glick. Glick added, “The vision of the local active members of this effort is to create a nearshore site that isn’t just a one-time effort, but a continuous effort to reef the entire site and create a habitat within it that supports the entire life cycle of the Gulf fishery.”
CCA Texas remains committed to the nearshore reefing efforts in Texas and looks forward to expanding habitat and fishing opportunities along the entire Texas coast. For more information and CCA Texas and HTFT projects, be sure to visit www.ccatexas.org.