Artificial Reefs Placed in Steinhatchee Fisheries Management Area

Bill Lindberg confirming the proper placement of a recently built “fisheries conservation reef” in the Steinhatchee Fisheries Management Area (Photo Credit: Keith Mille, FWC).The Steinhatchee Fisheries Management Area (SFMA), in planning and development for more than a decade, has just passed a major milestone, the construction of 452 of 500 planned “fisheries conservation reefs.” This project has been a long-term partnership between UF’s Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), with federal funding through Sport Fish Restoration for reef construction and NOAA Fisheries-MARFIN for research and monitoring. 

The initial reef construction began in 2005, when Bill Lindberg, UF and Florida Sea Grant fisheries specialist, and his team placed a line of 40 standardized reefs, 160 cubes in groups of four, bracketing the Big Bend region of Florida. Reef cubes each weigh a ton and have a large central cavity sized for larger-bodied fish, like gag. These sites are used as fisheries independent monitoring stations intended to aid gag stock assessments and to evaluate the output of the conservation reefs now deployed in a 100-square-mile area permitted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, about 18 miles west of Steinhatchee. 

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