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SBEP to deploy habitat modules at three artificial reefs in Sarasota Bay

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SARASOTA – With names like “deep cover”, “lincoln log” and “layer cake, the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) will deploy new reef modules on three existing artificial reefs in Sarasota Bay during the week of June 17. The three reefs, Walker Reef, Hart’s Family Reef and Sarasota Sportfishing Anglers Club Reef, are managed by Sarasota County Natural Resources. Reef Innovations of Sarasota constructed the reef modules and will oversee their deployment. Some reef modules were also built by Riverview High School and Boy Scout Troop #14.

Six different types of reef modules will be deployed on each site. The reefs are popular fishing destinations that are already supported by materials such as rocks and reef balls. The new modules are specially designed to attract young reef fish, particularly gag grouper, during their first two years of life. The deep cover module mimics natural ledges and can hold large numbers of fish, offering safety from predators and humans. The reefs will increase fish survival rates until they are large enough to move offshore and become part of the adult fishery.

Next year, SBEP plans a similar deployment at three artificial reef sites in Manatee County waters within Sarasota Bay. This project is jointly conducted with Sarasota County and would not be possible without the generous financial support of the Sarasota Sportsmen’s Association.