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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 7, 2004

Contact: Peter Boger
(609) 984-1795

DEP OFFERS ARTIFICIAL REEF PLAN UPDATE FOR PUBLIC REVIEW

(04/119) Trenton -- The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today released a copy of the update to its “Artificial Reef Management Plan for New Jersey” for public comment. The Plan has helped to guide New Jersey’s extensive reef building efforts at 14 artificial reef locations for more than 17 years.

"New Jersey is now a national leader in artificial reef development and this plan will strengthen our reef program through appropriate standards and fisheries goals," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "Artificial reefs are an environmental and economic boon for New Jersey. New fishing and diving opportunities enhance our shore economy, while our marine ecosystems gain new habitat."

The new draft of the Plan covers all aspects of the multi-faceted program, including its objectives, history, benefits, site selection and other considerations. It also establishes a protective standard for the stability, durability and effectiveness of various materials used in reef construction. Currently there is no uniform national standard for the durability of reef materials.

Over the years, New Jersey has had tremendous success with its artificial reef program. Past studies of artificial reefs show that they may be colonized by up to 200 species of fish and invertebrates. Reefs have 800 to 1,000 times more biomass than open ocean. Artificial reefs can also form important nurseries for juvenile fish.

In recent years, DEP added several ships and tugboats to its reefs, as well as more unusual materials such as the 250 decommissioned New York City subway cars added at five reef locations in the summer of 2003. DEP has formed an independent committee to oversee a multi-year monitoring program at the subway car sites that will study water quality, fisheries and biota, and the durability of the reefs. The results of this study will further help New Jersey refine its artificial reef program.

The state currently has 14 artificial reef sites where it periodically deploys new reef materials. These sites include: Sandy Hook Reef, Sea Girt Reef, Shark River Reef, Axel Carlson Reef (offshore from Mantoloking), Barnegat Light Reef, Garden State North Reef (offshore from Harvey Cedars), Garden South Reef (offshore from Spray Beach), Little Egg Reef (offshore from Holgate), Atlantic City Reef, Great Egg Reef (offshore from Atlantic City), Ocean City Reef, Wildwood Reef, Deep Water Reef (offshore from Wildwood), and Cape May Reef.

The DEP is accepting public comments on the draft for the next 60 days. A copy of the update to the Plan is available at the DEP website at http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/reefplan04.htm.

 

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