Much like the rest of the Gulf of Mexico, the waters off of Sabine Pass have seen many rigs and platforms removed due to government requirements, which require their removal once they are no longer producing or maintained sites. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Artificial Reefing Program is working with Coastal Conservation Association Texas (CCA Texas), Building Conservation Trust (BCT), CCA’s national habitat program, and others to help replace these marine habitat-rich structures with other artificial structures.
Much of TPWD’s work up and down the Texas coast has been within Texas state waters through the nearshore reefing program. CCA Texas and BCT have been active participants in TPWD’s Artificial Reefing Program, contributing over $1.6 million to date. These project sites include: Rio Grande Valley Reef; Port Mansfield Reef; Corpus Christi Reef; Port O’Connor Reef; Matagorda Reef; Freeport/Vancouver Reef; Galveston’s Big Man and Kate’s Reefs; and Sabine HI20 Reef. Sabine HI20 is the latest site to see materials deployed.
CCA Texas and BCT partnered with TPWD, Shell Oil Company, Sempra Energy, Music City Chapter – Coastal Conservation Association, and Friends of Sabine Reefs to make the first deployments into the Sabine HI20 site. In early October, a 120’ x 30’ x 6’ barge was deployed at the site. In late October and early November, a barge load of large granite blocks and other concrete materials were deployed, providing new habitat to approximately 40 acres of the 160 acre site. These deployments are the first of several planned into the HI20 site that will provide important habitat for fish species in the area, and an easily accessible nearshore fishing site for recreational anglers on the Upper Texas coast.
“The Texas coast has seen the removal of the majority of the oil and gas platforms that provide critical habitat for fish and other marine species,” commented Robert Hickman, CCA Texas Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow committeeman. Hickman continued, “The deployment of the barge load of granite blocks is an exciting time for CCA Texas members on the Upper Texas coast, and it is because of these local CCA Texas member’s efforts that CCA Texas and Building Conservation Trust are able to lead the way in these types of projects to create and restore marine habitat.”
The removal of oil platforms in the Gulf removes acres and acres of fishery habitat. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSSE) states that as of April 15, 2018, 532 platforms previously installed on the US Outer Continental Shelf have been reefed in the Gulf of Mexico. These structures can provide a home for 12,000 to 14,000 fish, according to a study by the Coastal Marine Institute and 2 to 3 acres of habitat for hundreds of other marine species. Although the Rigs to Reef program is established and has been successful in some respects, the more recent push by the federal government and companies themselves has been for complete removal.
In many instances, this has also been dictated by the condition and location of structures, but the overriding factor has been the federal government policy and push for complete removals.
At one time, the 12 oil blocks off of the Texas Gulf coast held approximately 1,800 standing platforms. To date, there are approximately only 270 platforms left. On the Upper Coast, the Brazos and Galveston Blocks contained approximately 260 platforms. Today only 22 platforms remain within these two blocks, illustrating the loss of habitat and the need for restoring and creation efforts.
CCA Texas and BCT are committed to helping restore and create nearshore marine habitat. We look forward to projects in the near future at sites up down the Texas coast with the next focus in the Galveston area. For more information about these efforts, contact John Blaha at [email protected] or visit Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Artificial Reef program website at https://tpwd.texas.gov/landwater/water/habitats/artificial_reef/.
CCA Texas and BCT Receive Conservation Wrangler Award
CCA Texas and BCT (Building Conservation Trust) recently received the Conservation Wrangler Award from Texan by Nature. Texan by Nature seeks to bring business and conservation together through select programs which engage Texans in stewardship of land and communities. The organization’s Conservation Wrangler program recognizes innovative and transformative conservation projects across the state of Texas. Each Conservation Wrangler project positively impacts people, prosperity, and natural resources.
Building Conservation Trust, CCA Texas and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department have partnered to restore a 27.7 acre oyster habitat in Sabine Lake. The habitat has been damaged over the years by sedimentation from construction of the Sabine-Neches Intracoastal Waterway and ship channel. This habitat restoration benefits the recreational angler industry, local small businesses, and the local economy. In addition, the project is restoring degraded habitats, creating new habitats, advancing the science of coastal habitat and marine fisheries conservation, fostering habitat stewardship, and educating coastal communities on the value of conservation.CCA Texas and BCT are proud to be recipients of the award along with five other great projects that positively impact people, prosperity, and natural resources in the great state of Texas.