Coastal Conservation Association’s new REEF Louisiana Program has announced plans to build a set of artificial reefs in Vermilion Blocks 119 & 124, in an area where oil and gas platforms have been recently removed. The new reef complex will be named in honor of well-known outdoorsman and conservationist, Jim Rawls.
Along with conservation partners Shell, CCA’s Building Conservation Trust and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, CCA Louisiana plans to build 4-5 individual reef sites using pieces of decommissioned platforms and a variety of concrete “materials of opportunity.” The materials are currently being prepared for deployment, and include recycled platform jackets, a helipad, a large concrete platform, and several highway barriers, catch basins and other concrete construction materials that have been made available to CCA and approved for use on the project.
The reefs 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 since the platforms that once stood there were favorites for red snapper and mangrove snapper anglers, as well as divers. Each of the new reefs will sit roughly within the footprints of the old platforms and will be designed to optimize the water and bottom conditions with the hopes of creating the best possible fish habitat.
CCA Louisiana will name the project after the late James “Jim” Edward Rawls III (pictured above) in honor of his lifetime of conservation vision and passion for fishing the Louisiana coast. 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 untimely passing in August of 2018.
CCA expects to begin work on the Rawls Reef complex in late August or early September. Once work starts, the project should take about two weeks to complete.
This will be the 26th reef project by CCA Louisiana in recent years, representing more than $11 million in habitat creation. It will be CCA’s third reef project built on the site of removed oil and gas platforms. The first was the “Pickets Reef” in Ship Shoal Block 26 (built in 2014), one of the most popular and productive projects ever completed by CCA. This June, CCA completed the Ted Beaullieu, Sr. Reef Complex in South Marsh Island Block 233. The Beaullieu Reefs were the first project by CCA’s new REEF Louisiana Program, aimed specifically at replacing lost habitat in sites where oil and gas platforms have been removed.
Funding for the Rawls Reefs will come from CCA Louisiana, Shell, CCA’s Building Conservation Trust and LDWF’s Artificial Reef Trust Fund, as well individual gifts from CCA Louisiana REEF Club members. In-kind donation will be provided by DLS Energy, Road Rock Recycling, EMC Diving Services and other partners.
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.
Members will receive more information about the Rawls Reef Complex and CCA’s other upcoming projects in the coming weeks.
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