Group Seeks City's Help Sinking Freighter for Near Shore Reef

A group that persuaded the state to donate land for an artificial reef is now looking for financial support from the City of Corpus Christi.

The group wants the City to spend $100,000 to help sink a freighter off the coast of Mustang Island.

At Tuesday's City Council meeting, Mike Hurst with the Saltwater Fisheries Enhancement Association asked to be added to next week's agenda to ask for the City's support.

Last year, 60 tons of concrete debris was donated by the Texas Department of Transportation to be dumped into the water, where it now serves as an artificial reef. But now, reef builders have found a ship they can buy with the City's help.

"SFA is ready to step up with $100,000 for this reef site, and we're going to ask the City to match us," Hurst said.

Five years ago, the City lost out on sinking the U.S.S. Oriskany for an artificial reef. The City of Pensacola, Fla., ended up getting the ship and sinking it off their coast. It cost Pensacola $20 million, but Hurst said now the state is willing to pick up most of the cost for reefing a ship here.

A ship will mean a good economic impact for the long term.

"The dollar impact from the most conservative study that I've been told is a little over $2 million a year per ship that is sunk in the area," said Sid Stovall of Ascuba Venture Dive Shop.

The 160-acre reef off the coast here will allow sea life to flourish. It will also mean a boost in recreational divers.

One local company specializing in fishing and diving charters says business has fallen off in the last five years.

"We ran approximately 100 trips a year with generally five to six people; five to six paying customers per trip," said Michael Miglini of Out to Sea Adventures. "last year, we ran probably a dozen trips, and not many of them were all that great because the platforms weren't there."

Hurst said he hopes to be on the agenda for the next City Council meeting. If the City is willing to help, the 155-foot long freighter could be part of the Corpus Christi Near Shore Reef by the middle of summer.


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