Okaloosa gets $450,000 BP grant to study reefs

reef

Reef with fish

Maurizio Carta | Stock.xchng
Published: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 17:04 PM.

FORT WALTON BEACH — Okaloosa County has received $450,000 from BP to pay for a study of reef development in area waters.

The grant was funded from a $57 million Deepwater Horizon settlement established to promote the tourism and seafood industries in regions along the Gulf Coast affected by the April 2010 oil spill.

“The basic objective of the project is to get a general estimate of the biomass that exists on the public reefs offshore of Okaloosa County,” said Scott Henson, who manages the county’s artificial reef program. “We’re looking at fish … particular species that are reef fish and pelagics.”

Henson came up with the idea for the study while trying to figure out reef density in Northwest Florida waters.

 The county applied for $450,000 each year for the next four years but so far has been approved for only the first year.

Henson said the study will help provide the state with “empirical data” on various fish populations on and around reefs in Northwest Florida.

“What we’re trying to do is help the state verify the assumptions they’re making about our reef systems,” he said.



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