15 people stand together for a picture holding up a small sign that says "Fishing for Energy".

Removal of Derelict Fishing Gear on Artificial Reefs in Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is planning to remove an estimated 2,000 lbs of marine debris from artificial reefs within the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves.

Type of Project: Fishing for Energy Grant

Region: Florida and the Caribbean

Project Dates: December 2019 - April 2021

Who is involved?
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, with the support of a Fishing for Energy grant, a partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Covanta, and the NOAA Marine Debris Program, will remove marine debris from four artificial reef structures within the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves estuarine system.

What is the project and why is it important?
Florida’s commercial and recreational fishing industries generate billions of dollars and support hundreds of thousands of jobs statewide. Planned artificial reefs may provide local economic benefits because they attract fish to a known location and are popular attractions for commercial and recreational fishermen, divers, and snorkelers. Unfortunately, one of the unintended consequences of the fishing industry is derelict fishing gear, such as lost or discarded netting, monofilament line, stainless steel hooks, lead weights, and lures.

The state of Florida has an active artificial reef program and both Lee and Charlotte counties have deployed artificial reefs within the Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves. As part of this project divers will conduct pre-removal assessments, including photo and video documentation at four priority artificial reefs: Old Tire Reef, Charlotte Harbor Reef, Danger Reef, and Cape Haze Reef. Once assessments are complete, debris will be removed from the artificial reefs and properly disposed of or recycled. 

After the derelict fishing gear is removed, divers will continue to monitor the four reefs after one month and again in one year to evaluate the state of the reef habitat and to check for any further accumulation of marine debris. Minimal debris on the reefs one-year after removal may indicate the success of prevention education and outreach efforts. In addition, a 3-5 minute video will also be created to document the project and highlight the effects of derelict fishing gear on artificial reefs and wildlife. The goal of the video is to reduce the amount of marine debris by encouraging user groups to engage in sustainable practices.

Last updated Mon, 04/04/2022 - 11:20 am EDT