Construction of Louisiana's largest artificial inshore reef at the eroded Independence Island wrapped up Monday (June 6), the Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana announced.

"This project is the result of nearly two years of hard work and dedication by CCA volunteers, the (Louisiana) Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and NOAA," CCA Louisiana Executive Director David Cresson said. "We are so appreciative of all of them for their incredible commitment to this important project. Anglers and their families will enjoy the benefits of this reef for generations."

"We are incredibly grateful for …all our partners for their leadership in what is an essential effort to rebuild areas along our coast that have been damaged by erosion."

LDWF's Randy Pausina said the project is an important step toward rebuilding the coastal fishery to historical levels.

"The recreational fishing industry has sustained a number of challenges over the last six years; hurricanes, the BP oil spill and recent flood waters from the Mississippi River have and will continue to impact our inshore reefs along Louisiana's coast," Pausina said. "Projects like this one are an essential component in restoring our recreational fisheries.

Nearly 8,000 tons of limestone were dropped from barges onto four acres about three miles Northeast of Grand Isle, where Independence Island was once located. The center of the reef is located at 29° 18' 26.98" N, -89° 56' 01.01"W, and will be marked by several mooring buoys to be deployed later this month.

Funding for the project was also made available through LDWF's Artificial Reef Development Fund.

CCA Conservation Committee Chairman John Walther says he expects the reef to begin holding quickly.

"Reefs we have built in the past have proven to provide great habitat for our favorite species, like speckled trout and redfish," Walther said. "I expect anglers will be landing nice catches from the new reef before the end of the summer."