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April 1, 2004

Contact: Elaine Makatura
(609) 292-2994


(04/29) TRENTON - The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is cautioning boaters, anglers and divers to navigate with care around the Shark River Artificial Reef Site located offshore of the Shark River Inlet, Monmouth County. The area has been under construction for more than a year for the creation of two undersea rock ridges that will provide habitat for fish. The partnership project among the DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, will continue throughout 2004.

"With warmer weather approaching, we could see more boaters, anglers, and divers travelling through this high traffic area," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "Because of the massive size and density of the bedrock being excavated and brought into the area, it is extremely important for the public to understand the danger that exists near the project site."

For safety reasons all boats in this area must give way to tugs towing barges of material to the site. All anchored vessels in the line of transit should immediately retrieve anchor and clear the area. Commercial fishermen should not set fixed gear, such as lobster or fish pots on the reef site during rock deployments because the gear could be damaged.

During construction, tugs will be pulling large barges of granite bedrock from New York Harbor to the Shark River site depositing the rock at predetermined locations. Boaters should keep in mind that when tied to a barge, tugs have greatly reduced maneuvering ability. To visualize the volume of material generated by this project, imagine two lanes of the Garden State Parkway covered with three feet of granite over the entire 170-mile length of the roadway.

The cooperative goal is to create two massive undersea ridges that function like traditional reef structures. The creation of the undersea structure will influence the entire water column with varied marine life communities flourishing from sea floor to sea surface.

Adding rock to the ocean floor provides much needed hard-structure habitat for fish, lobster and other marine life. The rocky ridges will become attachment surfaces for invertebrate marine life, such as mussels, barnacles, sponges and anemones as well provide hiding places for bottom-dwelling species like sea bass, blackfish, cod, crab and lobster. The granite rock ridges will create productive fishing grounds for centuries to come.

The Shark River Reef is located 16 nautical miles offshore of Shark River Inlet. The DGPS coordinates of the reef site corners are:

NW   40°07.35'   73°41.75'
NE   40°07.35'   73°41.05'
SW   40°06.20'   73°41.75'
SE   40°06.20'   73?41.05'



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