Editor’s Log: Vessel 'Big Time' Deployed On Fire Island Reef - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Vessel ‘Big Time’ Deployed On Fire Island Reef


NW Corner: 40°36.100 73°13.500
NE Corner: 40°36.100 73°11.500
SW Corner: 40°35.600 73°13.500
SE Corner:  40°35.600 73°11.500

September and October are prime time to target inshore reefs for porgies, sea bass, fluke and blackfish. And, thanks to an aggressive plan by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) to expand and improve existing artificial reef sites, anglers in our region have greatly expanded opportunities to connect with these key inshore species. The latest deployment was the vessel Big Time to the Fire Island Reef. It was part of the state’s efforts to develop a stronger, more diverse marine ecosystem and provide shelter for fish and other marine life off New York’s shores. The vessel Big Time is a 55-foot steel luxury Feadshipcruiser Showboat built in 1956.

To date, New York State’s Artificial Reef Program has deployed a total of 4,700 tons of jetty stone, 1,810 cubic yards of Tappan Zee Bridge materials, three New York Canal Corporation steel barges, Erie Canal lift bridges, miter gates and pontoons, New York DOT steel bridge girders, trusses and pipe, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers research vessel “M/V Hudson” on Fire Island Reef. All materials were deployed under the guidance of the DEC Reef Program to ensure they are safely cleaned of contaminants prior to joining the reef. In November 2020, the Artificial Reef Program deployed 16, 75-foot steel rail cars donated by Wells Fargo on Fire Island Reef, and 59 additional rail cars were deployed on five other reef sites.

DEC manages the State’s 12 artificial reefs, which include two reefs in Long Island Sound, two in the Great South Bay, and nine in the Atlantic Ocean. Since the inaugural deployment in 2018, the Reef Initiative has successfully placed reef materials on all but one of these reef sites.

The benefits of constructing New York’s artificial reefs include improving existing habitats to increase local marine biodiversity, stimulating more productive and diverse aquatic ecosystems, and promoting environmental sustainability. Concrete and steel surplus bridge materials have proven to be both stable and durable reef-building material while providing shelter and forage opportunities for the finfish and crustaceans that inhabit these underwater structures.

Additional patch reef creation through material deployments will increase the use and enjoyment of these valuable New York State resources. Anglers and divers who access the artificial reefs support local businesses through the purchase of fuel, bait and tackle, marine equipment, and by using for hire party/charter and dive vessels. New York’s marine resources are critical to the state’s economy, supporting nearly 350,000 jobs and generating billions of dollars through tourism, fishing, and other industries. More than 500,000 anglers in the region will reap the benefits of this new initiative, supporting the region’s growing marine economy which accounts for approximately 9.7 percent of Long Island’s total GDP.

Anglers in New York State marine waters are required to enroll in the New York Recreational Marine Fishing Registry. The Registry provides important information for setting quotas, size and bag limits, and fishing seasons each year. More information on the Registry can be found on the DEC website or by contacting DEC’s Marine Fishing Access Unit at (631) 444-0438.

Reef construction is part of the NY is Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. For more information about DEC’s Artificial Reef Program visit DEC’s website.


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