Artificial reef to be built off Anna Maria Island

AMI reef
Manatee County plans to build an artificial reef in the Gulf of Mexico. Cindy Lane | Sun

Manatee County commissioners will spend $60,000 to construct an artificial reef, Borden Reef, about 7 nautical miles southwest of Longboat Pass in the Gulf of Mexico, to be completed by Aug. 10.

Manatee County logo

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will match up to the amount the county spends through a grant funded under the federal Dingell-Johnson Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act, which provides federal aid to states to manage fisheries used in recreational fishing and diving.

The project will balance public user group interests such as fishing and diving with resource conservation and minimal environmental impact, Assistant County Attorney Katharine Zamboni wrote in an internal county memo.

The reef will consist of four closely-spaced patches constructed of 900 tons of clean limestone boulders in the permitted area (latitude 27° 24.473’ N and longitude 82° 47.842’ W) at 40 feet, with a minimum 28 feet of vertical clearance, according to an FWC project report, which describes the area as primarily sand bottom with intermittent shell and overall lack of natural hard bottom features or seagrass.

The county has been building reefs since the late 1960s and has 13 artificial reefs.

A 2010 economic impact study by the University of Florida shows that artificial reefs in Manatee County produce an annual reef-related impact of more than $23 million and 234 full- or part-time jobs.