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August 07th, 2011 | Author:

A new  University of Florida study finds artificial reefs are economic boon and  enjoy widespread public support.   The study of artificial reef use in six southwest Florida counties shows the structures lure a lot more than fish.

The reefs, which provide habitat for popular sport fish and other marine life, pulled more than $253 million into the region during one year, the study found. Though it costs nothing more than a saltwater fishing license to use the submerged structures as a fishing spot, anglers spend money on food, lodging, fuel, tackle and other necessities.

The UF and Florida Sea Grant study looked at money generated by artificial reefs in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties in 2009. Researchers found that $136 million came from residents, while $117 million was spent by visitors.

Download the study here.