|The Red Box marks the location of the S.C. Memorial Reef|
The S.C. Memorial Reef has been in the planning stages since 2009, raising funds to put in place a brand new offshore artificial reef. Installation of reef materials was set for August of 2013, but has now been pushed back into September. The offshore location is in 350-feet of water. The premise of the Memorial Reef is to provide a protected fishing area for the loved ones of offshore enthusiasts who have passed away. The offshore fishing community has been holding fundraisers each summer at the Governor’s Cup Billfishing Series. Each year the S.C. Memorial Reef auction coincides with the Carolina Billfish Classic at Toler’s Cover Marina near Sullivan’s Island. Gold Bug Island is the site of the auction and tickets include food, drinks, a band and a lively silent and live auction for the sake of bluewater conservation. Some offshore boat owners are stepping up like Gage Blue from the Sadie Beth who donated 19 shipping containers to the reef project. The value of the containers is $16,500 but the long-term value of these as artificial reef structures on the ocean floor is immeasurable. Mr. John Hill from the El Tejano contributed $10,000 towards the cost of towing the materials out to sea later in August. Stevens Towing is donating time to weld much of the donated structure together before towing it to sea. Items like a crane and radio tower will provide the vertical structure that is so essential for the baitfish that inhabit these artificial reefs. Two 270-foot long barges will be sunk to serve as the footprint for the S.C. Memorial Reef. Captain Stevie Leasure, co-owner of the sportfisher named Summer Girl, is one of those dedicated volunteers. Leasure is willing to stand in front of an audience to make a pitch for donations towards the reef, and to be the point man for the reef. The reef is a Type II MPA, or Marine Protected Area. The area is located more than 50 miles out from Charleston, and is a 4 by 6-mile area that has been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources now holds the reef permit, and when completed it will be the deepest reef on the Atlantic Coast.
To find out more about how to contribute visit the Internet at www.scmemorialreef.com.
To read more of my feature article on the S.C. Memorial Reef click on All At Sea.