MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The Jim Caudle Artificial Reef has become the most popular fishing site in the state of South Carolina, and Wednesday, the Artificial Reef Foundation held a meeting to discuss how successful and valuable to the region it has become.
South Carolina's artificial reefs generate over $83 million each year, and create an excess of 1,000 jobs in and around the communities in which they are located.
Organizers estimate $20 million washes into the Grand Strand every year.
"Fishermen go and buy tackle, they fuel up their boats. The marinas and tackle shops are developing and hiring more people to work," explained Bob Martore, the Artificial Reef Coordinator with the Department of Natural Resources.
The recent drop of over 40 armored personnel carriers will continue the growth of the 650,000 cubic feet reef that has welcomed over 200,000 fishermen to its waters since it opened just ten years ago.
"It is an innovative way to train soldiers and still provide support to the community," said Colonel Brad Owens with the U.S. Army.
Col. Owens said the drop prepares soldiers for their duties overseas while also getting them used to our coast in case the Grand Strand ever needs assistance from the National Guard.
"If they have to responded to a national emergency, like a hurricane, they're familiar with the local authorities and can provide support," he explained.
Wednesday we learned how lucrative the Jim Caudle Artificial Reef has become to the Myrtle Beach economy, its role in the growth of CCU's Marine Science Division, and how it has partnered with industry to become a model for artificial reefs worldwide.