Vancouver Reef Expansion Splashes Down

John Blaha
Vancouver Reef Expansion Splashes Down
“This is the perfect example of how organizations can work together to improve habitat for marine life”

Texas anglers now have more fishing room at Vancouver Reef after more than 250 tons of concrete and granite reefing material were added to the popular fishing site through a cooperative effort of CCA Texas and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD). The addition of the material marks the single largest addition to the reef since the original liberty ship was sunk at the site off Freeport in 1976.

This project is a win-win situation for the resource. Creating reef habitat is a great tool in building biomass and building structure for the entire marine ecosystem food chain. A lot of experience was gained during this project and CCA Texas will be looking to use that experience to build more habitat for the betterment of Texas's coastal resources.

"This important project is the first of three for near-shore reefing in Texas to be put in place by Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow (HTFT)," commented CCA Texas State President Bill Schwarzlose. "This material donated by Texas A&M Galveston and Old Castle Precast and the facilities donated by Dorsett Brothers Concrete have helped create a magnet for numerous Gulf species and enrich Texas's coastal resources."

The effort to expand the Vancouver Reef began when Texas A&M Galveston contacted CCA Texas in early 2009. The school had twenty-three granite blocks ranging in size from 3 to 12 tons for offshore habitat on site and inquired about participating in the habitat restoration and creation efforts of the newly launched HTFT initiative. This initial contact and research into the feasibility of deploying this material offshore led to the initial approval of $25,000 in funding by the CCA Texas Executive Board in April 2009.

With a vision and desire to expand the project, HTFT sought outside funds and was able to secure an additional $60,000 from a private Houston area foundation for artificial reefing in Texas. With $25,000 of these funds designated for the Vancouver project, HTFT moved forward to secure more materials, temporary storage and docking facilities, and to forge a working partnership with TPWD. Old Castle Precast, located in Brookshire, Texas, stepped forward and offered to supply approximately 110 - 115 concrete catch basins for reefing material. Longtime CCA Texas supporter, Dorsett Brothers Concrete, jumped onboard and provided temporary storage for materials and the use of on-site docking facilities on the Old Brazos River in Freeport, Texas, giving the project quick and easy access to the Gulf.

With materials secured, storage and docking facilities in place, and dollars in hand, HTFT began working with Texas Parks Wildlife Department's (TPWD) Artificial Reef Program Coordinator Dale Shively to make the deployment reality. TPWD had the expertise for the deployment and it was an opportunity to leverage the resources of both groups for greater expansion of the Vancouver Reefing site and the Texas Artificial Reefing Program.

"This is the perfect example of how organizations can work together to improve habitat for marine life," said Shively. "I look forward to working with CCA Texas on many more reefing projects in the future."

As HTFT continues to move forward in expanding its habitat program, it will work to build more partnerships up and down the Texas coast for similar projects. The Vancouver reefing project reflects the commitment of CCA Texas volunteers and members as well as the importance of building relationships within the local communities, with other organizations and with local and state government agencies. In addition to the Vancouver Project, CCA Texas has earmarked $50,000 for the expansion of the Port Mansfield reefing project and another $35,000 for the new Matagorda reef project, currently in the final stages of permitting. Please be sure to visit for more information. Lastly, if you would like to enjoy this new near-shore habitat, punch the following coordinates into your GPS: (WGS 84 format) N28o 47' 31.3" - W95o 20' 56.3".

For detailed maps of the Vancouver and other reef sites available from TPWD's Artificial Reef Program, visit