Escambia County has over 500 public artificial reef sites available for scuba divers and anglers in the Gulf of Mexico waters. Escambia County Marine Resources Division established the "Escambia Southeast Artificial Reef Site" for the deployment of artificial reefs on an "ecosystem" scale. Spanning nearly nine square nautical miles, it is the largest permitted artificial reef site within Florida waters.
Residents are encouraged to make use of Escambia County's public artificial reefs during this snapper season.
The Marine Resources Division obtained funding from the Deepwater Horizon Natural Resources Damages Assessment to construct 167 "patch reefs" inside and around the perimeter of the reef site. For the past year, the division has worked with Skanska to deploy approximately 75,000 tons of concrete rubble from the demolition of the Pensacola Bay Bridge to construct four large artificial reefs. These reefs help the entire underwater ecosystem and bolster the area's diving and fishing industries.
Governor Ron DeSantis, along with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced additional dates for red snapper season this fall for private recreational anglers and state for-hire operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Additional dates include Nov. 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29.
"These artificial reefs were deliberately placed within Florida waters to provide fishing opportunities for times when federal waters are closed, but Florida waters are open to recreational fishing," said Marine Resources Division Manager Robert Turpin. "The Governor's recent announcement of additional days for recreational red snapper harvest within Florida waters is exactly why Escambia County did this."
Red snapper is perhaps the most economically valuable and culturally relevant fishery in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. During this season, private recreational anglers may harvest red snapper in Gulf state and federal waters. However, state for-hire operations are limited to fishing for red snapper in Gulf state waters only.
The Escambia County Marine Resources Division has improved the Public Artificial Reefs List in several ways to make it easier for anglers, divers and the general public to access.
View a full list of Escambia County Public Artificial Reefs here.
To view a map of artificial reef sites, click here.
Additionally, on Saturday, Nov. 28, there will be a saltwater license-free fishing day which is a great time for Florida’s residents and visitors to try out fishing in Florida without needing a license. On these days, the fishing license requirement is waived for all recreational anglers, including both residents and non-residents.
To learn more about the recreational red snapper season in Gulf state and federal waters, including season size and bag limits, visit MyFWC.com/Marine and click on “Recreational Regulations” and “Snappers,” which is under the “Regulations by Species – Reef Fish” tab.
A diver on the Oriskany reef in Escambia County