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Sarasota Sportsmen's Association Donates $5,000 to Support SBEP Artificial Reef Program

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SARASOTA, FL - The Sarasota Sportsmen's Association (SSA) donated $5,000 to the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) to support the organization's artificial reef program. SSA has donated $42,500 to SBEP since 2003. The non-profit group is dedicated to educating local youth about outdoor activities while promoting conservation of local natural resources.

Artificial reefs provide marine habitat while increasing and enhancing recreational fishing and scuba diving opportunities. SBEP and its partners have placed nearly 3,000 habitat modules on nine new artificial reef sites within Sarasota Bay since 2000. SBEP developed an artificial reef master plan in 1996 that identified 20 potential sites for new reefs.

A new reef module designed to provide deep cover for juvenile gag grouper will be deployed on the Bay reefs this year. The larger modules provide temporary homes until the gags are large enough to move into deeper offshore waters as mature adults.

According to a recent Florida Sea Grant study, southwest Florida artificial reefs are used extensively by residents, visitors, private boaters, and for-hire clients, who spend nearly $275 million annually. The economic impact includes costs for food, lodging, fuel, tackle, and other necessities.