The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) artificial reef program has secured a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit to proceed with construction of two new artificial reefs off Ocean County’s Manasquan Inlet, Commissioner Bob Martin announced yesterday.
“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,” Commissioner Martin said.
Artificial reefs are constructed from a variety of materials, such as rocks, concrete, steel, old ships and barges. These materials provide surfaces for a wide diversity of marine organisms to grow, ultimately providing food and habitat for many species of fish and shellfish.
The DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife resumed deployments of old vessels and other materials last year following 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 DEP 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. State waters extend three miles from the shoreline.
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.