NOVEMBER 17, 2016


The sinking of two retired vessels marked the start of a man-made reef in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s called the RGV Reef. The people behind the project said it will benefit everyone. It’ll replenish fish in the Gulf, bring income to the area and provide a great fishing spot for all.

Robert Glick, the founder of RGV Reef, witnessed the first piece of his project fall into place. “This is a state water reef. It opens up a tremendous opportunity for us. It’s close enough that small boats can come on a nice day, like today, but big enough that boats won’t be able to fish it out,” he said.

The old shrimping vessel, the Gulf Explorer, and an old tugboat, the Sting, were towed out to state waters off the shores of South Padre Island. The ships sunk to the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, 13 miles, traveling at 20 degrees and north of the jetties. It wasn’t an easy task getting the vessels to their final resting spot. It took seven hours for the “Sea Spirit” to haul them.

A towing job, like the one made, starts at a cost of about $6,000. Glick said he was grateful the towing was free. Other people are backing the cause. “Every time we make a step, someone comes forward and helps us. This time Billy Kennon with the Sea Spirit really pulled it together for us. Every time there’s somebody, I hope every time there will be somebody,” Glick said.

Glick admitted the project started with the simple idea of wanting a better fishing spot to catch red snapper. He said it quickly became much more than that. “In the scheme of things, the Gulf being a better place is important to me, more important than catching a lot of fish. And as we progressed on this project, we realized that this was going to be a learning curve for all other projects. They’ll be a lot more up around the Gulf. It really is my legacy, not to catch fish but to leave this great reef behind,” he said.

Fishing for red snapper is strictly regulated in federal waters, and the open season is short. Federal waters start at nine nautical miles from the shore; one nautical mile is a little more than a mile as measured on land. Fishing for red snapper within state waters is year-round. Glick hopes the reef will help replenish the number of adult fish available for local fishermen.

“Next year, these shrimp vessels will be full of fish. It will draw people to South Padre Island. It will benefit the boat vendors, the tackle vendors, the hotels, the restaurants. It will be an automatic impact for people to fish snapper 365 days instead of just six or seven,” Glick added. Glick said he hopes to expand the reef over the next five years. He mentioned the plan for the summer months is to haul concrete out to the site and drop it to the bottom of the Gulf. Fishermen can find the area by looking for buoy number 58.