CCA and Conservation Partners Complete Two New Nearshore Reefs

Chevron and LDWF support CCA’s REEF Louisiana Projects at Bay Marchand 3 and South Timbalier 51

The Coastal Conservation Association of Louisiana, in cooperation with Chevron and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, completed construction this week on two new artificial reef projects in the State’s nearshore waters, in Bay Marchand Block 3 and South Timbalier Block 51.

The projects are part of CCA’s REEF Louisiana program, aimed at rebuilding critical fish habitat that is lost when oil and gas platforms are removed from the water. Both of these new reef sites were home to platforms that have been recently removed, and were identified by anglers as desirable reef locations.

“Ideas for these projects come from CCA members,” said David Cresson, CEO of CCA Louisiana. “Vital fisheries habitat is lost every time a platform is removed from the Gulf. Through our REEF Louisiana program, CCA members are doing something about it.”

The new reef at Bay Marchand 3, near Port Fourchon, is in about 45 feet of water, and is easily reachable with a short boat ride from Belle Pass or Caminada Pass. CCA deployed several hundred tons of recycled concrete using a modular grid design. Small clusters of these structures were spread out in columns and rows over 5 to 6 acres in an effort to optimize bottom contours and water conditions. The design will also create overlapping “feeding halos” where a variety of fish species may thrive. In these depths, it is likely that a diverse range of fish could call these reefs home, including nearshore species like red drum and speckled trout, as well as reef species like snapper, cobia and more.

The South Timbalier Block 51 reef is located about 20 miles south of West Timbalier Island in about 60 feet of water. At this site, CCA also utilized hundreds of tons of recycled roadway structures to create new fish habitat.  The project features a larger cluster of material at the reef center, with numerous “satellite” clusters deployed in a circular pattern around the center. At these depths, the ST 51 Reef should provide great habitat for a variety of reef species, like red snapper, mangrove snapper, grouper, cobia and more.

“Typically, these reefs begin supporting marine life very soon after they are deployed,” said John Walther, CCA’s Vice President of Habitat. “I would expect that smaller marine organisms will orient to these structures in short order, and from there it won’t be long until an entire marine ecosystem is established.”

Captain Chris Moran, owner of Cajun Made Charter Service and Port Fourchon Marina, was on hand for the deployment and talked about the importance of projects like these.

“As long as I can remember, people have come from around the world to fish Grand Isle and Fourchon,” said Moran. “After what we’ve been through here after Hurricane Ida, it is great to see CCA and their partners rebuilding some of what we’ve lost. Hopefully, this will encourage people to come back to this area and enjoy the incredible fishery we have here.”

Funding for these projects was provided by CCA’s REEF Louisiana Program and Chevron, along with matching funds from LDWF’s Artificial Reef Trust Fund. Additional support was provided by CCA’s Building Conservation Trust and members of CCA’s REEF Club. In-kind labor was provided by Romeo Papa Boat Company. Materials were donated by Gainey’s Concrete and Road Rock Recycling.

The partnership between CCA and Chevron has produced numerous projects like these over recent years, and Chevron says they are proud to give back to the Louisiana coast through this ongoing effort.

“Chevron is proud of our longstanding partnership with CCA Louisiana and our support for these two artificial reef projects in Bay Marchand Block 3 and South Timbalier Block 51,” said Leah Brown, Chevron Gulf of Mexico Corporate Affairs Manager. “These projects will provide essential marine habitat on our coast and will help enhance fisheries in Louisiana. Thank you to CCA and all the local and state partners that have made these nearshore reefs possible.”

The Bay Marchand 3 and South Timbalier 51 reef sites will be studied and monitored by CCA and the LSU Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences, thanks to a generous grant from Chevron. Pre and post-construction surveys are being performed on each site, and the success of the reefs will be measured over time to learn about the viability and productivity of the materials and reef designs we utilize. Results of these surveys will be made available to the public.

CCA’s REEF Louisiana program has plans to complete two more nearshore reefs later this fall, at Vermilion Block 69 and South Timbalier Block 165. CCA has additional plans being developed for nearshore reefs at Eugene Island Block 51, and Cameron Block 45, as well as 2 inshore reefs near Four Bayous Pass and in Calcasieu Lake.

Over recent years, CCA has built 32 separate reef projects across Louisiana’s coast. Earlier this year, CCA built the Green Monster Reef in Plaquemines Parish, replacing fisheries habitat that was lost when the iconic “Green Monster” platform complex was removed from West Delta Blocks 23 and 24.

CCA will publish the GPS locations for Bay Marchand 3 and S. Timbalier 51 in the coming days.