The state of New Jersey has plans to cultivate a new artificial reef north of Barnegat Inlet that would cover roughly a square mile of sea floor. According to The Star-Ledger, the reef will be exclusively for the use of recreational anglers.

The upcoming project will cost around $200,000 and take anywhere from five to seven years before it reaches peak productivity. Construction of artificial reefs date back thousands of years and were previously used to channel water. Some records show that man-made reefs were even used in ancient naval warfare. The uses for modern reef-building are varied but often involve sinking old ships. The hulls of these vessels provide a solid platform where coral and other marine life can make their homes. Hard-substrate reefs are used by fish as breeding ground, which makes the locations prime for fishing or scuba diving.

The state’s long standing artificial reef program is a boon to commercial fisherman, but sporting anglers are often edged out of the best locations. The divide causes some tension between two industries, which the state’s Department of Environmental Protection hopes to alleviate with the new reef.

Officials say that the project is exemplary of the cooperation between state agencies and angling groups.

“Commissioner Martin’s pledge is a giant step toward resolving gear conflicts, and addresses many concerns expressed by recreational anglers,” said New Jersey Outdoor Alliance chairman Anthony Mauro. “Though the restoration of federal funding to the New Jersey Reef Program is requisite for a final resolution, we are very encouraged by the prospect of an equitable conclusion to what has long been an obstinate problem.”

Image courtesy New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection

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