The Alabama Gulf Coast has the world’s leading artificial reef zone that provides the perfect habitat numerous species of fish, including the beautiful and delicious red snapper, our state’s signature saltwater fish.
Alabama has the largest artificial reef program in the world with more than 1,100 square miles of artificial reef habitat with an estimated 15,000 individual artificial reefs deployed off the Alabama coast. These reef structures include reefs constructed specifically to enhance marine habitats as well as ships, barges, bridge rubble and other durable material like oil/gas platform jackets, limestone aggregate, derelict U.S. Army tanks, repurposed concrete culverts/manholes/pipes, ships, drydocks and barges.
The 14 permit areas are identified on the accompanying map, and the Hugh Swingle, Dr. Bob Shipp, Don Kelley, Tatum Winn - North, and the Tatum Winn – South are considered the General Permit Areas. After acquiring a permit from the Alabama Marine Resources Division, artificial reefs can be deployed by individuals within these General Permit Areas, which are up to 55 nautical miles offshore.
Those offshore reefs are not only home to red snapper, but anglers will also find gray triggerfish, gray snapper, vermilion snapper, amberjack and grouper.
But the Alabama artificial reef program is not limited to offshore species. High-quality reefs have been constructed in inshore Alabama waters and nearshore waters of the coast. A variety of reefs have been constructed in inshore shallow water to depths of more than 200 feet. These reefs provide essential habitat for the spawning and growth of species that transition from inshore waters to offshore structure, like red drum (redfish), Southern and Gulf flounder, sheepshead and gray snapper.