Due to the fact that our federal fishery managers are looking to reduce the recreational Red Snapper bag limit in federal water to 2 fish per person, we are looking to promote fishing for this species in Texas State waters. The Texas Great Barrier Reef Project (TGBRP) is a Public/Private program dedicated to the construction of an artificial reefing corridor spanning the entire length of Texas Coast positioned in State Waters from 7.5 to 8.5 miles off of the beach. The TGBRP will extend from Port Isabel to Sabine Pass, and be divided into 5 segments due to shipping lanes. Up to 4,000 artificial reefs per year will be deployed in an effort to provide Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) for Red Snapper and a multitude of other sport fish species important to our Coastal Economies. EFH is being lost at an alarming rate due to the removal of oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico resulting in the detriment to our fisheries. In addition to providing badly needed EFH, this reefing project would restore a badly needed winter red snapper season inside Texas State waters. Texas has lost hundreds of millions of dollars due to no winter fishery, and stands to lose millions more if the Federal Red Snapper limits are further reduced as threatened by Roy Crabtree at the latest Gulf Council Meeting in Baton Rouge – thus the absolute need for the TGBRP. Alabama has been very successful with their artificial reef program and now accounts for 40% of all recreationally caught Red Snapper in the ENTIRE Gulf, even though their coastline is 1/9th the length of the Texas coastline. This success equates into countless of millions of dollars to THEIR Coastal Communities. This was accomplished through the development of permit reefing areas on a scale that cannot be over-exploited by recreational or commercial fishermen (1,260 sq. miles of reefing areas) and is key to this success story. We need the leadership and vision presented by TGBRP in order to prevent the over-exploitation of the fish stocks on the reefs, and in the long term, loss of Billions of dollars to key coastal communities generated by offshore fishermen. Part of our team at TGBRP is Dick Stone, who headed up the National Artificial Reefing Program, providing a wealth of experience and knowledge in putting together Public/Private Artificial Reefing Program.
TGBRP will be done in 3 phases; Phase 1 will include the segments between Galveston and Freeport, Freeport to Port OConnor, and Port OConnor to Port Aransas. Second phase will include the segment Port OConnor to Port Isabel. Third phase will include the segment from Sabine Pass to Galveston. Projected time frame for initial reef deployments; Summer 2007. The TGBR has applied for $5 Million/year in CIAP Funding, which, if approved, will be distributed in Summer 2007.