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St. Lucie County Reveals Coordinates For Latest Artificial Reef

Post Date:06/25/2019 5:49 PM

Thanks to support from the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA), U.S. Customs and several non-profits, St. Lucie County has successfully created a new artificial reef. On Sunday, a 180-foot freighter, known as the Voici Bernadette, was scuttled in 100 feet of water roughly 11 miles southeast of the Fort Pierce Inlet. This site was named the Curtis Bostick Artificial Reef, thanks to a generous donation from the CCA.

Post-deployment dives confirm the ship is upright and stationed at the permitted site. The official GPS coordinates are:

  • Wheelhouse coordinates - 80*02.985' 27*23.870'
  • Bow coordinates - 80*02.970', 27*23.865'

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol donated the freighter to St. Lucie County after it was seized for smuggling drugs into Miami from Haiti. Prior to deployment, the vessel spent a year docked in St. Lucie County, while crews and volunteers removed items and cleaned the ship. Items from the vessel were auctioned off by MMPS Environmental Services, which continues to raise funds for the county’s artificial reef program. Just days before deployment, more than 200 tons of concrete were donated by the Orlando Utilities Commission and loaded into the ship’s haul to help stabilize the vessel on the bottom on the sandy sea floor. Additional support came from the Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA National Marine Fisheries Services, Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Board of County Commissioners. Before deployment, lionfish attraction devices were added to the ship by the Vero Beach-based group, The Frapper.

On Sunday, more than 300 private vessels made the trip out to the deployment site to watch the Voici Bernadette’s final voyage. As the vessel splashed into the depths, the sounds of cheers and boat horns filled the air. The sinking of the CCA Curtis Bostick Artificial Reef was well documented on regional, national and social media.

Since its reinstatement in 2005, St. Lucie County's Artificial Reef Program has spared more than 25,000 tons of clean concrete and steel from the landfill, while at the same time creating nearly 55 underwater habitats for marine life, fishermen and divers to enjoy. Reports from divers indicate that the reefs are providing habitat for more than 100 species of fish, including adult snapper and grouper, snook, sharks and other fishes as well as baitfish and juvenile fishes.

A study by the University of Florida shows that artificial reefs attract more than just marine life. After examining six southwest Florida counties’ artificial reef programs, researchers were able to show that the reefs reeled in more than $253 million into the region during a 12-month timeframe. While it only costs a saltwater fishing license to use the submerged structures as a fishing spot, anglers spend money on food, lodging, fuel, tackle and other necessities. Researchers found that $136 million came from residents, while $117 million was spent by visitors.

For more information about St. Lucie County's artificial reef program, visit: https://www.stlucieco.gov/departments-services/a-z/administration/port-of-fort-pierce/artificial-reef-program or contact St. Lucie County Coastal Resources Coordinator Jim Oppenborn at 772-462-1713 or oppenbornj@stlucieco.org

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