DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — The Coastal Resource Team under Okaloosa County is expanding the artificial reef program.

Current Artificial Reef Structures and zones in the Gulf of Mexico (TDD)

The Board of County Commissioners amended a RESTORE act plan at the Oct. 4 meeting to remove the Offshore Fish Aggregating Devices and expand the Artificial Reef Program Expansion.

The county said the FADs came with unforeseen challenges, including the structures breaking away from the mooring lines.

The FAD program was one of five components of the RESTORE Act Spill Impact Component State Expenditure Plan. $500,000 was given to construct and install the FADs from 2018-2023. Another $80,000 would be contributed by the Tourist Development Department.

The TDD has constructed eight FADs with the TDD funds, leaving the $500,000 to be used. After audit costs, the amended plan will now allocate $391,769.00 to build more artificial reefs. The ongoing reef program is said to have more benefits than the FAD project.

The Artificial reef project has a similar goal of not only creating habitat for offshore species of fish but it also creates locations for commercial and recreational fishing and diving activity.

Okaloosa County Agenda Item

The funds will be used for the following:

  • Create 10 new artificial reef sites
  • Sites constructed of prefabricated modules, 6-20ft tall, designed to mimic natural reefs
  • Deployment and post surveys of the sites

The first publicly funded artificial reef offshore Okaloosa County was in 1976. Since then, more than 400 publicly funded artificial reefs have been deployed. Okaloosa County is home to the largest for-hire fishing fleet in the world and as such, there is a significant demand for reef fish habitat.

Okaloosa County Artificial Reef Expansion Project Proposal

The 10 new artificial reef structures will be constructed and deployed within the next 12 months with surveys lasting another 12 months following.