DESTIN, Fla. (WKRG) — The Okaloosa County Coastal Tourism Development Department got a large grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to add more artificial reef modules in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Board of Okaloosa County Commissioners approved the $1.26 million grant Tuesday afternoon.
The grant is part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Florida Artificial Reef Creation and Restoration project established after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in 2010.
Members of the TDD Coastal Resource Team estimate the funds can add 400 to 600 artificial modules off the coast. The modules are prefabricated modules sitting 7 to 15 feet high.
As of the beginning of 2023, 717 modules are in Okaloosa County waters. 3,605 prefabricated artificial reef modules are placed across all five Northwest Florida counties (Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, and Bay)
Artificial reefs such as the modules promote tourism by offering diving, snorkeling, and fishing activities. The county plans to use the new modules to create many new reefs, as well as, place modules around vessel deployments to create an even more varied and enhanced habitat for native fish.
The NDRA said the program has been successful in Northwest Florida they are establishing more artificial reef funds for Gulf, Franklin, and Wakulla counties.
View a map of the artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico online.
Okaloosa County is working to deploy two large vessels into the artificial reef program this year, The DOLPHIN and the MANTA.