The Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Texas hosts commercial and recreational fishing and diving and plays an important role in local economies. It provides vital habitat for marine life of all types and links us with the ocean through an interconnected environment. Artificial reefs enhance this marine environment by providing additional habitat needed by marine life. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Artificial Reef Program, funded through industry partnerships and grants, creates and enhances this critical marine habitat to benefit Texans and the natural environment.
The Gulf accounts for 80% of all shrimp harvested,
62% of all oysters harvested and more than 1.4 billion pounds
of annual seafood production.
More than 140 petroleum platforms—with more on the way—have found new purpose as marine habitat in the Texas Artificial Reef Program.
Texas boasts 66 artificial reef sites ranging from 5 to 100 miles from shore in the Gulf of Mexico—that’s 3,440 acres of prime fishing and diving adventure.
Seven reef sites within nine nautical miles of shore serve as accessible nearshore fishing and diving opportunities.
Red snapper, the most popular game fish in Texas Gulf waters, thrive around artificial reef sites. Scientific divers see red snapper at TPWD artificial reef sites during four of every ten visits to these locations.
With a few exceptions, the floor of the Gulf of Mexico is flat and bare except for artificial reef sites. Nearly 200 marine fish species have been seen on these complex, stable, and durable habitats among artificial reef structures.
Sixteen of 23 U.S. coastal states (or 70 percent) maintain artificial reef programs.
The Texas Clipper ship reef off South Padre Island generates more than $1 million for the local economy from anglers and $1.4–$2 million from divers. Anglers spend on average $460 per fishing trip, while divers spend upwards of $2,000 per dive.
Thirteen ships have been intentionally sunk as part of the Texas Artificial Reef Program, the largest being the USTS Texas Clipper. She’s 473 feet long—that’s 1.5 times the length of a football field.