Reefs create marine habitat, spot for anglers of Sabine Pass

Published 12:08 am Tuesday, November 14, 2023

SABINE PASS — As more and more abandoned oilrigs are capped and removed from the Gulf of Mexico, so goes the habitat for numerous species of fish.

More than 100 rigs have been removed in the area over a period of time, thus decimating the fishing opportunities for local anglers, according to Mic Cowart of Friends of Sabine Pass Reefs.

“It’s really shocking to see how much habitat was removed,” Cowart said. “And with that we saw the need for a grassroots effort in our area.”

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From this aspect Cowart and others began working with Texas Parks & Wildlife and Coastal Conservation Association in a coalition with industry partners to create an actual plan to build artificial reefs.

The waters in which the group is focusing are state waters from the beach to 9 miles out; beyond that is federal waters. Eventually organizers want to grow the program to add federal waters.

“We started in 2017, and deployments were made to one reef in 2018,” he said.

The group has industry partners who have greatly helped along the way, including Cheniere, Golden Pass, Sempra, Valero and Motiva.

Coward said there’s a generational impact to the restoration of the habitat and building the reefs, which provides recreational fishing activities for generations to come.

Reef materials vary, he said. They could be culverts; old pieces of oil and gas platforms, and it could be made of barges. Besides being structurally sound, the reef items are environmentally sound.

With the reef project in connection with TP&W and CCA there is organized approval to make sure no harm is being done to the environment and what is being built has sustainability for the marine ecosystem.

Several years ago the HI20 Reef made news as it was placed approximately nine miles offshore from Sabine Pass.

The reef is a 160-acre site that was already home to a 120-feet sunken barge and hundreds of granite blocks. The reef was expanded in 2021 to include hundreds of tons of additional diverse materials, including reef pyramids, steel energy industry structures, low-level relief and concrete culverts.

Information on Sabine Pass area artificial reefs, as well as an example of a reef pyramid is at the newly renovated boat docks in Sabine Pass at Broadway Street and South 1st Avenue.