New reefs coming to life off Hernando Beach

By Tim Wronka , Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, November 18, 2017, 4:52 PM EST

More fish will soon be on the way to Florida’s Nature Coast.

  • First set of artificial reefs installed off Hernando Beach
  • Reefs made of pieces of concrete
  • New reefs help promote water tourism

The first of several new artificial reefs were put down Saturday just a few miles from Hernando Beach.

The reefs are made up of small pieces of concrete called reef balls.

Crews are installing dozens of them, putting them on a barge and then bringing them 7 miles offshore

“We felt it would take pressure off the natural reefs by putting in artificial ones,” said Frank Santo, Hernando Port Authority vice-chair.

Hernando County Commissioner Wayne Dukes says the project has been years in the making and has required all kinds of permits.

“We're very restricted with where we can put them. There’s a lot of sea grass and they have to go on a sand bottom,” Dukes said.

Hernando County jumped on board with the Port Authority for the project in order to help keep fisheries healthy. The new reefs also help promote water tourism like fishing and snorkeling.

“It’s an attraction to our county and since we have a small county, this is a natural resource we have to offer,” Santo said. “If we can manage it properly, they’ll be enough for everybody and still give fish a chance to grow.”

The reef balls attract smaller fish to live in them. That brings bigger fish like grouper to the area.

“If you’re a two-inch fish, and you’re looking for a place to hide, you’ll be glad to move in,” Dukes said.

The county is planning to install these reef balls at 12 different sites. They are also looking to put artificial oyster reefs just offshore as well.

Funds from the Restore Act are being used to help pay for it.