Local couple honored by Field and Stream Magazine

Published: Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 09:40 AM.

“The MBARA is an active organization. You see all the good it does,” said Carol.

According to the Coxes, when the moved to the area in 1998, there were very few places to dive or fish in Mexico Beach, but the MBARA has helped to establish over 140 sites.

Just a few years ago, red snapper was rare in Mexico Beach. Carol reported that the city now has “one of the best snapper fisheries in the state of Florida.”

Bob, now president of the MBARA, and Carol, treasurer, spend their volunteer time conducting surveys on the artificial reefs and examining their structures as they seek out ways to improve future reefs. They also perform fish counts around established reefs to evaluate their performance.

In addition to creating certain sizes and shapes, the couple has found the proper materials that will bring fish to the area and allow them to thrive. They discovered that embedding Florida artificial limestone into the reefs mimicked the hard bottom that occurs naturally in the area.

“We’re helping the local fisheries grow to meet the growing demand,” said Bob. “We replenish it and make sure that it’s healthy for future generations.”

The association currently utilizes three shapes in their reefs. A three-sided pyramid design draws in larger fish; a flat, rectangular reef brings in grouper and gray snapper; and the “Ecosystem” design, which has multiple layers, provides crevices enjoyed by juvenile fish and black sea bass.

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