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ROCKAWAY ARTIFICIAL REEF EXPANDED

The expansion of state's network of artificial reefs will provide new marine habitats, improve recreational fishing opportunities, and help restore fishery resources.
By Fred Golofaro  |  July 23, 2018
ROCKAWAY ARTIFICIAL REEF EXPANDED
The deployment of recycled materials on New York’s reef sites is a multi-agency effort between the Department of Transportation, Canal Corporation, and the Thruway Authority.

New York’s initiative to expand and create new marine habitat within six Long Island artificial reef sites this year took another step this past Saturday, July 21, when Rockaway Reef (40 32.730 / 73 51.210) received materials from the Tappan Zee Bridge, including concrete columns, deck panels, and pipes that will improve habitat and recreational opportunities at the site.

The deployment was the result of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ongoing initiative to develop a stronger, more diverse marine ecosystem and provide shelter for fish and other marine life off New York's shores, and is part of his NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, an effort to improve recreational activities and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. Just last week, the Smithtown Bay Reef in Long Island Sound was expanded with the deployment of recycled materials from deconstructed New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) projects and two decommissioned Canal Corp. vessels. In June, Shinnecock Reef received a deployment of recycled materials to expand and improve the habitat of that reef site. The three projects are part of the largest expansion of New York’s network of artificial reefs in state history.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Governor Cuomo's innovative approach to expand New York's network of artificial reefs is a visionary plan that will create healthier, more vibrant and diverse aquatic ecosystems while bolstering the economies of New York’s coastal communities. The addition of material to Rockaway Reef provides new habitat for numerous marine species and increased recreational opportunities for the region's sport fishing industries.”

Rockaway Reef is a 413 acre site located 1.6 nautical miles south of Rockaway Beach in the Atlantic Ocean with depths ranging from 32 to 40 feet. The recycled materials used for the site were the result of unprecedented, multi-agency coordination between the Department of Transportation, Canal Corporation, and the Thruway Authority.

Construction of New York's first artificial reef dates back to 1949, and this latest initiative marks the state's first coordinated effort to stimulate the full environmental and economic benefits of artificial reefs. DEC manages the state's 12 artificial reefs, which include two reefs in Long Island Sound, two in the Great South Bay, and eight in the Atlantic Ocean. The three additional sites that will be enhanced this year include Moriches, Fire Island, and Hempstead reefs.

Materials used for the reef expansion are being strategically placed and built out of hard, durable structures such as rock, concrete, and steel pipes, and usually in the form of surplus or scrap materials that are cleaned of contaminants to mitigate potential impacts to sea life before being recycled on the reef sites. Once materials and vessels settle to the sea floor, species like blackfish, sea bass, cod, porgies, ling and summer flounder move in to build habitats within the new structures, and encrusting organisms such as barnacles, sponges, anemones, corals, and mussels cling to and cover the material. Over time, these recycled structures will create a habitat similar to a natural reef.

For more information on the state’s artificial reef program, visit www.dec.ny.gov. A map, site coordinates and additional information on New York State's Reefs are available at www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/artificialreefbrochure.pdf. View DEC's artificial reef building video on YouTube.

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