Fishing reef planned for Pensacola Beach Pier
“We’ve been working for months to get this design approved so we could move forward. We are so excited at the idea that we could finally have a reef in the near future,” explained Pensacola Beach Pier operator Michael Pinzone.
Robert Turpin, Manager for Escambia County Marine Resources Division, with Dept. of Natural Resources Management, said this is just the first step in the process of getting a reef in place. “The design phase is the first step, followed by permitting and then construction. This has been in the pipeline for about a year. We had to make sure all the stakeholders were advised and make sure there were no unintended consequences through the design process,” Turpin told Gulf Breeze News this week. “So now, after last week’s design approval, that design will move forward to the permitting phase.”
Turpin said he never tries to guess how long permitting could take, and permitting is not guaranteed in any project. “I don’t see any problems going forward with this project, since the design is consistent with previously approved and constructed projects,” he said.
Turpin said the permitting fees are being paid by Santa Rosa island Authority. “We already had two other reef projects in the pipeline so we took advantage of that and included this one. There will be four reefs placed out there at Pensacola Beach if they are all approved. One will be a snorkeling reef, with another designed as a kids educational habitat reef off Quietwater, and then this one to draw fish to the fishing pier. The fourth is in the middle of a feasibility study and is to be a surfing reef. Some of these reefs have never been done before in the U.S. so we need to study and make sure everything is done right and safe.”
The reef off Pensacola Beach Fishing Pier would be a patch reef made up of four modules, each 20 ft by 20 ft. and spaced 47.5 feet apart. It would be placed about 250 feet southeast of the southeast corner of the terminal platform of the fishing pier. Each reef would be 20 tons of Class II materials or the equivalent size rock.
“We really have not had a great fishing season since the oil spill,” Michael Pinzone explained at last week’s hearing. “We believe these reefs will bring fish closer to the pier to help with that – species of fish we are not getting. We are excited!”