150-Foot Steel Vessel Deployed in Volusia County
June 27, 2018 – On Saturday, June 23, 2018, the Lady Philomena, a 150-foot steel vessel was deployed in 80 feet of water at artificial reef site 12, roughly nine miles offshore the Ponce de Leon Inlet.
This project was made possible through the funding partnerships of Volusia County, Coastal Conservation Association Florida (CCA Florida) and CCA’s National Habitat Program, the Building Conservation Trust (BCT). BCT received a grant from the FishAmerica Foundation, the conservation funding arm of the American Sportfishing Association, and the Brunswick Public Foundation, which helped ensure the project’s success.
“As the FishAmerica Foundation celebrates 35 years of teaming with local groups to enhance fisheries and water quality, there could be no better effort to exemplify the accomplishments that can be made than participating in the deployment of the Lady Philomena in conjunction with CCA Florida and BCT,” remarked Andrew Loftus, grant manager for the FishAmerica Foundation. “The benefits of this project to the environment, economy and sport fishing will grow each year as the reef ecosystem develops.”
“Meaningful partnerships are the reason we are able to do great marine habitat work in Florida and throughout the United States,” said John Carlson, chairman of the Building Conservation Trust. “The dedication of like-minded organizations demonstrates the power of coming together to benefit marine life and the local community.”
The 90-foot Tug Everglades was also placed alongside the Lady Philomena during last week’s deployment. The vessels are intact and upright on the seabed in very close proximity to one another and will make excellent fishing and diving sites.
The Lady Philomena was forfeited to the U.S. Customs in Miami, after having been seized with contraband. The vessel was deployed in an established artificial reef system consisting of clean concrete culverts, structures and large concrete bridge components. The deployment of the Lady Philomena will enhance this underwater community, attracting marine life such as fish, shrimp and crabs. Artificial reefs also boost local economies through an increase in sport fishing, tourism and patronage in small businesses. The Volusia County artificial reef system is visited by an estimated 50,000 vessels annually and experiences high visitation by recreational anglers and divers.
The reef started generating local excitement last fall, when Volusia County hosted a two-day viewing party that enabled visitors the opportunity to tour the ship.
“The deployment of the Lady Philomena has been widely anticipated, and it is so gratifying to have seen the project’s completion, from start to finish,” said Brian Gorski, executive director of CCA Florida. “Projects like this really bring nearby residents together and educate the public of the value of marine habitat conservation. We are so grateful for our many strong partnerships, as well as the outpouring of support from the local community.”back to habitat restoration