Workers are expected to begin removing the structures that make up the Pickets in Ship Shoal 26 out of Dularge and Cocodrie by mid-summer, according to an official with Coastal Conservation Association Louisiana.

David Cresson, executive director of CCA, said once the structures are dismantled, which should take 30 to 45 days, construction will begin around August on a 12- to 15-acre artificial reef to replace the trout-fishing hotspot in Terrebonne Parish.

“We don’t want to be out there building the reef during the hottest fishing times, so we’ll wait until late summer when it starts to slow down a bit,” he said. “Decommissioning is supposed to start in the next several weeks and the reef will go in right after that process is complete, so hopefully by the end of summer we’ll have the whole reef in place.”

Three separate 4- to 5-acre reefs made from 15,000 tons of crushed concrete will be installed where the Pickets stood, Cresson said. 

“So it will be 12- to 15-acres total of rock and rip-rap material designed to maintain some of the bottom features that exist out there right now,” he said. “We’re going to try to keep the rises and scours and dips and nooks and crannies to maintain the integrity of the existing bottom, while creating new habitat with the rock material.”

The budget for the artificial reef is $1.2 million, and Cresson said that cost is being shared among the Artificial Reef Trust Fund through the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Fieldwood Energy LLC, Apache Corporation and CCA.

“This is a great example of local groups and businesses working together to save and maintain an ecosystem that is important to all of us who live and work along the Gulf Coast,” said Obie O’Brien, vice president of governmental affairs for Apache Corporation.

If summer weather cooperates, Cresson said actual reef construction should only take between 20 and 30 days.

“I think it’s a 30- to 45-day process to remove the structure, and once they’re done with that we’ll move in with the barges and heavy equipment to build the reefs,” he said.