The state will create two new reefs aimed at helping recreational anglers off South Jersey.
One reef will be built 1.7 nautical miles southeast of Manasquan Inlet, just north of Ocean County’s Point Pleasant Beach. The second reef will be built 9.2 nautical miles southwest of the mouth of Cumberland County’s Maurice River and will occupy a little more than a square mile of bay floor, at depths ranging from 23 feet to 35 feet.
The state secured the necessary U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permits for both reefs, state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said Thursday.
Recreational fishing generates $1.5 billion in economic benefits in New Jersey each year, and directly employs about 20,000 people, according to a news release from the DEP.
“We are very excited to move forward with this expansion of the state’s network of artificial reefs, which create important habitat for many types of marine life,” Martin said.
“By enhancing recreational fishing and diving opportunities, these reefs help boost the state’s tourism economy. We are particularly pleased with the opportunity to develop Delaware Bay’s first reef site, which will help bolster tourism in that region,” he said.
The artificial reefs are typically built from rocks, concrete, steel, old ships and barges.
The state resumed the program after a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to restore funding for the program. This decision was the result of a compromise the state reached that allows commercial interests to have continued access to portions of two reefs in state waters and calls for the construction of a new reef for recreational fishing in state waters.
The Army Corps permit allows the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife to develop the two new reefs over the next 10 years as materials suitable for deployment become available.
The Army Corps permit also reauthorized continued operation and development of 15 artificial reef sites – 13 in federal waters and two in state waters.