MDMR extends Katrina Key fishing reef near Deer Island

GULF OF MEXICO — The Mississippi Department of Marine Resources’ (MDMR) Artificial Reef Bureau has completed another extension of the fishing reef, Katrina Key.

The key has been extended westward by about 500 to 600 yards and divided into two segments. The segments will provide two gaps for current flow, which will allow additional foraging opportunities for fish.

Katrina Key is one of several artificial reefs and keys in the Mississippi Sound that was created by the MDMR’s Artificial Reef Bureau. It is located just south of Deer Island and serves to reduce shoreline erosion on the south side of Deer Island in addition to providing fish habitat. Katrina Key is also uniquely positioned to provide fishermen calmer waters and allow them to fish in adverse weather conditions.

In addition to these benefits, Katrina Key also provides a very unique vertical habitat throughout the water column for several important marine finfish species.

“This past spring we had reports of really nice speckled trout being caught along the reef,” said Kerwin Cuevas, MDMR’s Artificial Reef Bureau director. “There were a few six-pounders and several four-to five-pounders caught as well as white trout, ground mullet, red fish and Spanish mackerel.”

Construction of Katrina Key began in 2007 and used material from the old Biloxi/Ocean Springs U.S. 90 Bridge, which was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. The newly complete extension of the key came from the old U.S. 90 Back Bay fishing bridge and old Back Bay Bridge in D’Iberville. Cultch materials limestone and oyster shells have also been deployed on the north and south side of the key to enhance habitat.

As material and funds become available, the MDMR’s Artificial Reef Bureau, in conjunction with Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks, will continue to place additional material on the western side of the key while maintaining gaps for current flow. Cultch material planting sites on both the north and south sides of the key will also be expanded.

In addition to MDMR’s partnership with Mississippi Gulf Fishing Banks, Cuevas also credits the City of Biloxi, Commissioners on Marine Resources and Mississippi legislators as having been instrumental in Katrina Key’s continuing improvement.

Katrina Key is one of 67 nearshore reefs spread along Hancock, Harrison and Jackson county shorelines. For more information about the Artificial Reef Bureau, or to download a map of nearshore and offshore reefs, visit dmr.ms.gov and click on the Marine Fisheries tab.

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