Andrew “Red” Harris was a promising young man and lifelong Jupiter resident. He loved diving and fishing in the ocean waters off northern Palm Beach County. Tragically, Andrew was struck by a boat while saving a friend’s life snorkeling June 8, 2014.
His family and friends formed the Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation to honor his memory and assure he is not forgotten. We believe helping to ensure the long-term health and vibrancy of our local ocean by building artificial reefs in the waters where he loved to dive and fish off northern Palm Beach County is the best way to do so.
Artificial reefs provide habitat for many species and supplement the function of our natural reefs that are increasingly pressured as the boating population in Northern Palm Beach County continues to expand. We can’t expect our static natural reefs to be able to support this relentless increase in pressure.
And at the same time that our growing population causes our natural reefs to decline, millions and millions of spawned reef fish eggs float away in the current to perish for lack of habitat to grow and mature in.
We Need More Marine Habitat.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) states, “artificial reefs divert pressure from natural reefs while still allowing visitors to enjoy diverse marine life. Because many of these divers, snorkelers and anglers charter through local businesses, artificial reefs can have a positive impact on local economies. In such an instance, the artificial reef would be considered a win-win for the economy and the environment.”
The “Socioeconomic Study of Reefs in Southeast Florida” performed by Ph.D.s Johns, Leeworthy, Bell and Bond for Hazen and Sawyer Environmental Engineers and Consultants in conjunction with Florida State University and NOAA found that non-residents and visitors to South Florida spent $4.4 billion annually on fishing and diving activities associated with reefs, and that nearly 40% of that was related to artificial reefs.
A recent study estimates that every $1 spent on artificial reefs produces $138 in economic benefit.
But public funding is limited and we can’t rely on government funding alone to build the artificial reefs we need. We have to step forward and take action ourselves to raise money on our own and then ask government agencies to partner with us by matching the money we have raised.
The Andrew “Red” Harris Foundation will create large new artificial reefs in northern Palm Beach County in depths appropriate for SCUBA divers and fishermen and smaller reefs in depths appropriate for snorkelers and for fishermen catching bait. The foundation will build reefs with a combination of our 4 ton Coral Head and Fish House designs and 4 to 5 foot diameter boulders. We will strive to advance the science of artificial reef building with our unique modules and reef designs. We will create vibrant new habitats that will take pressure off our natural reefs, promote the rebound of our local marine environment and improve our local economy.
We will work to assure that everyone who loves and benefits from our local ocean’s vibrancy is aware of our mission and are given the opportunity to participate in and donate to the foundations projects.