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Environmental groups creating artificial reefs to save marine life in the Gulf of Mexico

In the last 10 years, thousands of oil rigs have been shut down and removed from the gulf, causing fish to lose their homes.

BEAUMONT, Texas — Environmental groups are working together to create manmade habitats and save marine life in the Gulf Of Mexico.

In the last 10 years, thousands of oil rigs have been shut down and removed from the gulf. This has led to the disappearance of habitats under the rigs, causing fish to lose their homes.

The issue has put recreational fishing at stake.

To protect marine life, conservation groups are dropping pieces of concrete deep into the gulf to create artificial reefs. The groups are also establishing habitats for fish, and in turn, giving anglers a place to keep casting their lines.

Mic Cowart is a Lumberton native and the founder of Friends of Sabine Reefs, a non-profit organization that supports the artificial reef program in the gulf. 

"We have lost more than 1800 platforms that we have utilized for fishing opportunities since the 70s, maybe even the 60s," Cowart said.

The organization is working with Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Coastal Conservation Association to install manmade habitats for ocean life.

"A plus for the recreational fisherman is they're readily accessible,” Cowart said “But also, it's a big economic driver for our area, it helps small businesses."

The partnership already has a 160-acre site on the upper Texas coast, made with concrete culverts and donated by Fortera Pipe and Precast in Houston. With the support of big-name donors, the groups are working on four more sites that are less than 10 miles from the coast for easy access.

For Cowart, the mission is personal, because the outdoors and the open sea hold a special place in his heart.

"My grandfather and my father taking me, and the memories I continue to have because of that," Cowart said.

Cowart wants to make memories like those with his children and grandchildren and pass them down for generations to come. 

"That trip is gone, unless we do something about it, and we've got the opportunity to do something about it through the artificial reef program," Cowart said. There’s just life out in the water. Unexpectedly, you will see something amazing, and to have that memory, it's really irreplaceable."

Those who want to learn more can attend a presentation that is scheduled for Wednesday, October 5, 2022, at the Sabine Pass Community Center. The presentation starts at noon.

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