Today, Governor Bobby Jindal joined the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) and Shell Oil Company to announce a new public-private partnership -- between the recreational angling community, private businesses and the state -- to assist in CCA's ongoing Building Conservation Habitat Program. Shell has committed 1.5 million dollars to CCA's Building Conservation Habitat Program.
Governor Jindal announced that Independence Island -- formerly an emergent island in Barataria Bay near Grand Isle -- will be one of the first beneficiaries of the Building Conservation Program. Independence Island was formerly one of Louisiana's popular fishing destinations, but due to coastal erosion and subsidence, the Island has sunk to the point that it is no longer a viable fisheries habitat. Governor Jindal said the state's new partnership with CCA and Shell will help resurrect the treasured marina life habitat associated with Independence Island.
Governor Jindal said, "Louisiana's coastal environment has faced many challenges, some man-made and some natural. This makes it increasingly important for us to find innovative ways to restore and enhance the coastal areas that support state's economy. Our marsh is the heart and soul of Louisiana. We have a sporting heritage second to none and a long, proud connection to our land, water and resources. Louisiana sportsmen know better than anyone the need to give something back to the environment so that we can continue to enjoy it while preserving this heritage for our children and grandchildren. That's what makes this announcement today so inspiring -- CCA's Building Conservation Habitat Program is a long-term commitment from the angling community to the incredible natural resources of Louisiana. Partnerships like the one announced today are a critical component for helping our citizens get back on their feet after the oil spill and preserving the beauty of coastal Louisiana for generations to come."
David Cresson, Executive Director and CEO of CCA Louisiana said, "Today's announcement is a great example of how when private enterprise, members of the community and the state work together -- they can accomplish great work. This reef will create new habitat for a large variety of marine species and will provide recreational fishing opportunities in an area that had been heavily affected by coastal erosion and other factors. I applaud Shell and Governor Jindal for working with CCA to spearhead this project, and I look forward to our continued work in conserving and enhancing our coastal fisheries."
John Hollowell, Executive Vice President, Deep Water, Upstream Americas, Shell Energy Resources Company said, "Shell has a long history of support for environment and habitat projects, and our thousands of employees in Louisiana are excited about the possibilities of this partnership. CCA members have an amazing track record of conservation work that sets them apart. We believe in the organization and are committed to doing our part to ensure that the Building Conservation Habitat Program has the tools to bring significant marine habitat restoration projects from concept to reality."
Patrick Murray, president of CCA National said, "This partnership combines the grassroots strength of CCA with the resources of Shell to allow our members to take the Building Conservation Habitat Program to new levels. It is an exciting time in marine conservation, and the restoration projects that will come from this initiative will play a key role in the enhancement of Gulf resources for both today's anglers and for generations of anglers to come."
The project calls for installing two reefs covering four acres at Independence Island this spring, each reef consisting of 3,500 tons of limestone to provide hard-structure habitat for marine fisheries. Almost immediately after installation, these reefs will start attracting marine organisms and forage fish, which will draw recreational species and provide new opportunities for anglers in Grand Isle.
CCA worked with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) to permit a 55-acre site for future reef development that includes the original footprint of Independence Island. The Independence Island Reef is being made possible by a $250,000 donation from the CCA Building Conservation Habitat Program and matching funds from the state.
CCA has a highly successful artificial reef program with reefs completed in Lake Pelto, Vermilion Bay, Calcasieu Lake, and Lake Ponchartrain. In in-shore coastal areas, this program has used crushed limestone to construct low-relief "shell-pad" type structures to enhance habitats and fisheries resources.