Another artificial reef is now in place in the Gulf of Mexico.
An old oil platform was transformed into the reef as part of The Coastal Conservation Association's efforts to restore natural reefs. This one is dedicated to a Lafayette conservationist and is located about 30 miles off of the coast of Louisiana.
"About five years ago,there was an oil and gas platform that was removed," Chad Courville a CCA volunteer said.
That platform was home to several species, meaning as it was removed so was the wild life. The new reefs, according to CCA will replace lost habitat in depths ranging from 75-80 feet, where oil and gas platforms have been removed. The sites in VR 119 & 124 were chosen by local anglers.
"We lost that habitat, and today were restoring that habitat for future generations," Courville said.
This artificial reef is dedicated to Jim Rawls, a Lafayette man who enjoyed fishing. Rawls, a decorated Vietnam Veteran and retired owner of Acadiana Divers & Salvage Corporation, was an avid outdoorsman who spent most of his free days in the woods or on the water with his family and friends. He is regarded as a founding father of the CCA REEF Louisiana Program, as his passion for replacing lost oil and gas habitat with artificial reefs sparked the efforts that began just before his passed in August of 2018.
"He documented where he fished, he could tell you where they were biting on what day," Mary Courville a family friend of Rawls said.
Two years ago, Rawls noticed the negative impacts of the removal of platforms and he was moved to action.
"He said, 'if you guys want to do something worth while, why don't you go and build a reef at those sites that have been removed,'"
The Rawls Reef Complex is expected to be repopulated in a year.
"Hopefully, in a few months well have some fish congregate there an it'll develop some different coral and marine life that was there," Courville said.
CCA Louisiana is working on plans for additional reefs where platforms have been removed, including projects in Eugene Island Blocks 51 and 74, as well as hundreds of other sites across the Louisiana Coast.