March 2017
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Marine Resources Division
Dauphin Island (251) 861-2882
Gulf Shores (251) 968-7576

Any person, firm, or corporation wishing to deploy materials to be used as artificial fishing reefs must adhere to the following materials and deployment guidelines and float plan filing procedures.



1) All structures must be inspected and permitted prior to deployment.  Structure(s) to be inspected must be in such position as to allow a complete and safe inspection.

2) A $31.00 inspection/permit fee is required for each individual structure, payable to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources - Marine Resources Division (ADCNR/MRD) by personal check, cashier's check, or money order.  If the applicant intends to deploy two or more structures to build a single reef, each structure must be substantially (permanently) attached to one another.  Multiple components not so attached will be permitted separately and subject to additional $31.00 inspection/permit fees for each independent structure.  ADCNR/MRD inspectors will signify approval of an acceptable structure(s) and configuration by applying an approved ADCNR/MRD Permit Placard (see example Permit Placard in Appendix I) to the structure(s).  A Permit Placard signifying ADCNR/MRD approval will not be placed on the structure(s) until all discrepancies identified by the inspector have been corrected.  Also, the ADCNR/MRD agent will complete the first three sections of the Permit Application Form.  The Permit Application Form is considered the "Permit" after the ADCNR/MRD agent has signed the Permit Application Form.  The "Float Plan" section may be completed at the time of permit authorization if the applicant has sufficiently planned the deployment voyage.  If the applicant has not sufficiently planned the deployment voyage, the "Float Plan" section will not be completed at the time of permit issuance.  The applicant will be issued two carbon copies of the signed Permit Application Form (a pink and yellow carbon copy).  The yellow copy is issued for the applicant to keep for the applicant's records.  The pink copy will be submitted to ADCNR/MRD from the applicant after reef deployment and the "Notification of Completion" section has been completed.  The pink and yellow carbon copies of the ADCNR/MRD agent signed Permit Application Form and the Permit Placard(s) affixed to the structure(s) serve as the required permits for the project and must be possessed for the duration of the deployment project.

3) The $31.00 inspection/permit fee per individual structure applies to all artificial reef building structures transported through Alabama's waters for deployment offshore.  If permitted, artificial reef structures are transported through Alabama waters for deployment in another state's waters, permits from that state must be in the possession of the permittee, in addition to the Alabama permit.


The Marine Resources Division’s goal is to provide long-lived, locationally stable marine habitat that will support a complex reef community.  Structure(s) to be used in the construction of artificial reefs should be chosen with safety to the marine environment, durability, and stability in mind.  All structures must be of such construction and material type so as not to disassociate, and be substantially weighted to ensure that it will stay in place on the bottom.  All materials that could float during deployment must be removed, and all components of the structures(s) must be cleaned to ensure that no visible oil or other chemical "sheen" will be evident upon deployment.  Similarly, all components of the structure(s) with a coating that could be considered a contaminant to the marine environment may require further investigation prior to being permitted.  Prospective reef builders should consult with ADCNR/MRD inspectors regarding the acceptability of any potential structure before construction.  Call the ADCNR/MRD offices for information and/or pre-certification.

Concrete, whether from demolition or purposely fashioned, makes excellent artificial reef material. Specifics of preparation include:
1) Concrete must be clean and free of residue.
2) Any exposed steel reinforcement rod associated with demolished concrete structures must not extend greater than 4" from the concrete so as not to endanger divers.
3) Reinforcement rod used in purposely fabricated concrete reef structures must be configured so as not to endanger divers.

Certain metal may be permitted for use as structures deployed to build artificial reefs.  Inspectors will review plans and evaluate same based upon composition, durability, and proper weighting, with permits being issued on a case-by-case basis.

Ships and other large vessels will be inspected and permitted on an individual basis, and may require Coast Guard and/or Environmental Protection Agency certification.  Cost of testing materials during certification application process is the responsibility of the owner or may be negotiated.

Wood may be incorporated into reef structures with the following requirements:  wood is free of creosote or potentially deleterious treatments, sufficiently attached or embedded in the structure and does not provide sufficient buoyancy to the reef to facilitate movement during tropical activity.  Permissibility of wood is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Some containers may be used as artificial reef material provided they are clean and modified to meet density, hydraulic pass through, and structural requirements.  Containers such as large roll off dumpsters or CONEX shipping containers may be used after additional weight and interior structural braces are added to prevent walls from collapsing, increase locational stability, and strengthen structural integrity.  Similarly, cylindrical containers may be permitted after modification to prevent rolling along the seabed, sufficient weight is added, and structural supports are incorporated.

MISCELLANEOUS STRUCTURES - Constructed of approved material(s)

  • Density must be greater than 4.5 lbs per ft3
  • Must have at least 25% pass through on all sides if density is between 4.5 and 7.5 lbs per ft3
  • Cylindrical items (excluding concrete) must be modified to have a structural beam (of sufficient length) extending through the middle of the structure and perpendicular to the longest axis of the structure to prevent rolling due to hydraulic forces
  • Structures that do not meet the above criteria may be modified to meet the required specifications.  For example, concrete may be poured into a container or the structure may be embedded into concrete to increase density.

Examples of possible structures and modifications potentially suitable for artificial reef construction:


Volume (ft3)

Weight (lbs)


M60 battle tank




20 yd dumpster*




30 yd dumpster




40 yd dumpster*




10' Conex Shipping Container*#




20' Conex Shipping Container*#




20' High Conex Shipping Container*#




40' Conex Shipping Container*#




40' High Conex Shipping Container*#




Chicken Transport Devices Permanently Attached




15' Concrete Pyramid




8' Concrete Pyramid




42' X 8' X 3' Cylindrical Tank**




* Concrete ballast must be added to increase density
** Perpendicular beam must be added to prevent rolling
# Internal structural supports must be added to increase structural integrity


PLASTIC or METAL DRUMS or CYLINDRICAL TANKS - will not be permitted.
SMALL GARBAGE DUMPSTERS - will not be permitted.
SMALL BOATS - will not be permitted.
WHITEWARE (APPLIANCES) - will not be permitted.
SHOPPING CARTS - will not be permitted.
PVC PIPE - will not be permitted.
FIBERGLASS - will not be permitted.
CORRUGATED METAL PIPE LESS THAN 6ga - will not be permitted.
TIRES - will not be permitted.


1) Following structure inspection and permit issuance, the applicant will notify the individual agent of the ADCNR/MRD who issued the permit, or in his absence, the administrative support staff from the proposed deployment event:

  1. Alabama Artificial Reef General Permit Area(s) in which the structure(s) will be deployed.
  2. Port of departure.
  3. Date and time of departure from dock.
  4. Estimated time of arrival at destination.
  5. Estimated date and time of return to dock.

2) Float plans must be filed with the appropriate ADCNR/MRD agent or office between 8:00a.m. and 5:00p.m. Monday through Friday at least one day in advance of planned departure to allow for notification of multi-agency enforcement and the U.S. Coast Guard.  If planning a Monday deployment, contact the ADCNR/MRD agent or office of permit issuance on the Friday prior, for plan filing instructions.  ADCNR/MRD staff will record the above information on the "Artificial Reef Deployment Float Plan" (see example in Appendix III) and in the "Float Plan" section of the Permit Application Form.  The ADCNR/MRD agent will fax the completed Artificial Reef Deployment Float Plan to the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office (251-441-6169) and Alabama Marine Police (251-981-9248).  The completed Artificial Reef Deployment Float Plan will also be distributed throughout the ADCNR/MRD enforcement section.


1) Deployment vessels may only be underway during deployment voyages on weekdays (Monday through Friday).  The applicant will have ten (10) weekdays to deploy a structure(s) after receiving a permit, after which the permit must be revalidated.  Under certain circumstances, special deployment provisions (such as minimum depth) may be added to the permit by the inspector.

2) Vessels transporting permitted artificial reef structure(s) shall depart the dock and deploy said structure(s) only during the hours of one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.  Return travel (empty) from the deployment site is allowed during darkness.  Should prevailing conditions prevent the deployment of all permitted structure(s) during the prescribed time frame, the permittee is allowed to return to port with remaining reef structure(s), providing the permittee notifies the U.S. Coast Guard Command Duty Officer, MSO Mobile (251-441-5121, VHF channels 16 or 23).  Following such an event, the permittee must contact the Marine Resources Division for permit revalidation.

3) Deployment on days or times other than those listed above will require a bond approved by the Department.

4) Reef structure(s) permitted as a functional unit, but later separated and deployed individually, shall invalidate the permit.


Within two (2) weeks of permit expiration, the builder must file a Notification of Completion (incorporated in the permit form). New permits will not be issued until ADCNR/MRD has received from the applicant a properly executed Notification of Completion for the previous reef-building permit.


The expansion of oil and gas platforms throughout the Gulf of Mexico has significantly contributed to the overall diversity and productivity of marine life.  Unfortunately for the marine life in which they support, the structures must be decommissioned after oil/gas production at the site becomes nonprofitable, the expiration of Outer Continental Shelf Lease Block contracts, or damage due to tropical cyclones.  In order for the structures to continue supporting and producing the extraordinary high diversity of marine life, ADCNR/MRD encourages partnerships with regulatory agencies and the owners of the oil/gas rigs to repurpose the structures into artificial reefs.

Repurposing the support jacket into an artificial reef not only provides a cost saving option for the oil/gas rig owners, but, more importantly, it benefits the marine ecosystem by providing exceptional habitat and vertical complexity for a divers assemblage of marine life to utilize.  Therefore, oil/gas companies, platform operators, and/or Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) lease block holders are encouraged to contact ADCNR/MRD if the oil/gas platform must be removed.

A PDF copy of the above protocols can be found at this link: Artificial Reef Construction Protocols.pdf

Artificial Reef Law
Enrolled An Act,
HB - 62

Relating to artificial reef construction in the offshore waters of this state; to provide for certain notification, permitting, and bonding requirements, to provide for certain penalties, and in connection therewith would have as its purpose or effect the requirement of a new or increased expenditure of local funds within the meaning of Amendment 621 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901.
Section 1. (a) Before any person, firm corporation, or association constructs or attempts to construct an artificial fishing reef in the coastal waters of the State of Alabama as defined by Section 9-710, Code of Alabama 1975, or waters approved by the U.S. Corps of Engineers adjacent to or which may affect the coastal area of Alabama as defined by Section 9-7-10, Code of Alabama 1975, and transports or attempts to transport material from which artificial reefs may be constructed through the waters of this state, the person, firm, corporation, or association small have the material inspected and approved by and shall obtain a permit from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division, or any agency designated in the future by the division, the cost of which shall be twenty-five dollars ($25) per reef and shall be credited to the Marine Resources Fund. Materials are limited to those permitted under The Standard Operating Protocol for Artificial Reef Construction through the Marine Resources Division of the department. An operator of a vessel loaded with material which is to be used in construction of artificial fishing reefs, or the operator of a vessel towing or pushing a vessel loaded with the material, shall have in possession a current valid artificial reef construction permit when transporting the material through the waters of Alabama. The operator of a vessel registered in Alabama shall have in possession a current valid artificial reef construction permit when depositing the material in an area approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers adjacent to the coastal area of Alabama or which may affect the coastal area of Alabama. The term "vessel", as used in this Section includes any watercraft or barge used to transport materials for the construction of artificial reefs.
(b) Any person, firm, corporation, or association cited for not having in possession a current valid artificial reef construction permit shall be required to immediately return to the dock. Failure to do so shall be considered a separate violation of this section.
(c) Vessels in transit through the waters of Alabama are subject to inspection of the reef material by authorities including, but not limited to, the U.S. Coast Guard, Alabama Marine Patrol, or the Marine Resources Division, when transporting material through the waters of Alabama. Vessels registered in Alabama are subject to inspection by authorities when depositing or attempting to deposit material in an area approved by the U.S.. Army Corps of Engineers adjacent to the coastal area of Alabama or which may affect the coastal area of Alabama regardless of whether vessel traveled through Alabama waters.
(d) Vessels and vessel operators transporting permitted artificial reef material shall notify the Marine Resources Division of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in advance of deployment reporting the time of departure front the dock, destination, and estimated time of arrival at destination. Vessels shall also file a float plan at least one day in advance of deployment in accordance with the Standard Operating Protocol for Artificial Reef Construction through the Marine Resources Division of the department.
(e) Any person, firm, or corporation depositing unpermitted reef material or permitted material in areas other than those designated by the Corps of Engineers shall be in violation of this section. The deposit of the material must be witnessed to support a conviction for a violation.
(f) The Marine Resources Division of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources may require a bond in an amount sufficient to protect the interest of the State of Alabama payable to the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in the event of a violation of the permit. The bond shall be issued by a licensed bonding company approved in advance by the department.
(g) Any person, firm, corporation or association violating this section shall, upon conviction, be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and punishable by a fine of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) and not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000).
Section 2. The provisions of this act are severable. If any part of this act is declared invalid or unconstitutional, that declaration shall not affect the part which remains.
Section 3. Although this bill would have as its purpose or effect the requirement of a new or increased expenditure of local funds, the bill is excluded from further requirements and application under Amendment 621 because the bill defines a new crime or amends the definition of an existing crime.
Section 4. This act shall become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.