An assessment of the sportfishery on artificial "Liberty Ship" reefs off Port Aransas, Texas




Vetter, Russell
Roels, Oswald A.

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The concept of using surplus World War II Liberty Ships for the construction of artificial reefs to increase the availability of sportfish off the Texas coast was originally suggested in 1974. It became a reality, under the guidance of the Texas Coastal and Marine Council, when three ships were sunk off Port Aransas in the winter of 1976. Since that time, the ships have rapidly become encrusted with algae, anemones, sea urchins, gorgonian coral and other attached marine life. These in turn have provided refuge and food source for a host of small invertebrates and fishes. In June of 1977, one and a half years after ·sinking the first ship, the Texas Coastal and Marine Council commissioned this study to evaluate the impact of the Liberty Ship reefs on sportfishing in the Port Aransas area. For a project such as the Liberty Ship reefs to be successful, there are two criteria: the ships must increase the supply of desirable sportfish and fishermen must be willing to utilize the new resource. The present study is an attempt to evaluate both aspects of the project. A user survey was conducted to determine the amount and type of recreational usage the Liberty Ships receive.
A report to the Texas Coastal and Marine Council in fulfillment of Contract No. IAC(76-77)-2149
Submitted September 1977