Juvenile Snapper Houses in FH-13 - May 24, 2016© Photos Posted by Mark Miller © Hi-Res Source
This was a trip to deploy 88 juvenile red snapper houses that were designed and deployed by the Mississippi DMR (Department of Marine Resources). Without a given name, I was trying to come up with one. They look like dice and since dice are used to play craps and because I think the design is crappy, I decided to call them "Crap Houses". The deployment was done by holding the vessel near a marker buoy and then deploying groups of 4 units on each corner, however some corners only received single units at some locations. More exact placements and coordinates will be be reported later. Below are pictures as well as some video I took both above and below the water. I was dissapointed in the DMR because I fabricated 6 crab pot FADs and a Carpet FAD to deploy on some of the units. The contractor agreed to tie them on but the DMR refused to allow it. So I was forced to deploy them using Scuba after the project was completed. However, a diving accident almost ocurred so the efforts were aborted after the first deployment. I was also dissapointed that the DMR is not sharing more information, like the mechanical drawing, weight, cost, proposed layout plan, and what they are wanting to accomplish with these units. After all, these are State public funds being spent and there should be more transparency and cooperation with the MGFB (Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks), who is the permit holder for the deployment location.
Several people have asked me what I didn't like about these structures and what I think they should be like, so here is my take on this subject. I have been studying Mississipi Artificial Reefs since the mid 1980's. In 1988 we deployed a huge amount of housing modules that were rectangular shaped buildings. There were several variations. Some had roofs, some didn't, some had openings in the walls, some didn't. Some openings were on one side only, etc. Many different configurations. Some even busted as they were deployed. These variations allowed some important conclusions to be drawn about fish preferences. I noticed that if a module had all four walls with no openings or only an opening on one side, they would not readily go in. If the module had openings on all four walls, the fish loved them. Even if there was a closed roof, they would still go in. Also, the ones that busted did much better at attracting more fish and the food chain startup organisms. The conclusions to me indicate that red snapper, and fish in general, are vertically oriented and they like a way to escape in a horizontal fashion. In addition, we have deployed many Culverts and crushed concrete rubble. The larger Culverts are great for game fish but they seem to keep the juveniles away. If you want to create juvenile red snapper habitat, I would use piles of small concrete rubble. This would be the most cost effective and easy. If you want to build some habitat like these structures, use slits instead of small holes. The slits would determine the size of what enters. There also needs to be more light penetration. I seriously doubt that small red snapper are going to enter these units. Also, our bottom is so soft, muddy, and full of sediment and there is a large need to have height on the structure to get some of it above that sediment line. If not, then FADs would be a tremendous benefit. Based on what has happened with Limestone Pyramids and Chicken Coups that we have deployed, I expect these units to scour into the bottom within a couple years time after which we will be lucky to see the top two holes accessible. The larger base pad is a good idea so I hope I am wrong. But in our softer bottom, it would be even better if it was mounted on a Post.