The NJ DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife is informing saltwater anglers that the Christie Administration has developed a compromise between recreational and commercial fishing interests regarding access to artificial reefs off the coast of New Jersey.  The plan will allow commercial interests to have continued access to portions of two reefs in state waters and calls for the construction of a new reef exclusively for recreational fishing, also in state waters.

The Division holds permits for 15 artificial reef sites – 13 in federal waters and two in state waters. The reefs, encompassing a total of 25 square miles of ocean floor, are constructed from a variety of materials, such as rocks, concrete and steel, even old ships and barges. These materials provide surfaces for a wide diversity of marine organisms to grow, ultimately providing food and shelter for fish.

Under the DEP’s plan, commercial fishermen will be permitted to continue using portions of two existing reefs in state waters off Sandy Hook and Manasquan. State waters extend from the shoreline to three miles offshore.  Recreational fishermen will continue to have access to all portions of these reefs.

In addition, a new reef, encompassing about a square mile of ocean floor, will be constructed in state waters in an area north of Barnegat Inlet to be used exclusively for recreational fishing. This new reef will encompass roughly the same area as the portions of existing state waters reefs that commercial fishermen will be allowed to use. The new reef will take one to two years to design and build and two to five years to become fully productive.

For more information and details about the plan, see the DEP news release at http://www.nj.gov/dep/newsrel/2013/13_0025.htm .  For information on the Artificial Reef Program, visit http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/artreef.htm on the Division’s website.

Image courtesy New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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