Governor Cuomo’s Reef Building Initiative - The Fisherman

Governor Cuomo’s Reef Building Initiative

New York’s saltwater anglers, and the recreational fishing industry as a whole, have been clamoring for some good news for what seems like a very long time. The first dose came in the form of the recently announced longer fluke season which will run from May 4 through September 30 this year. Then last Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo, at a press conference before a standing room only crowd at Sunken Meadow State Park, announced a new initiative to refurbish and expand six of the 12 state managed reef sites this year as part of the largest reef construction project in state history.

The sites include two in Long Island Sound, eight off the Island’s South Shore, and two in Great South Bay. Beginning in May and throughout the summer, Shinnecock, Moriches, Fire Island, Smithtown, Hempstead and Rockaway reefs will be the beneficiaries of 43,000 cubic yards of material from the demolished Tappan Zee Bridge, 5,900 cubic yards of jetty rock, 338 cubic yards of steel pipe, and 30 vessels of assorted sizes. All of the recycled material will have been cleaned of any contaminants prior to being placed on the sites. In a very short period of time, they will provide prime habitat for bottom dwellers like blackfish, sea bass, porgies, cod and fluke, as well as gamefish like striped bass, bluefish and sharks. Laid out in a patchwork pattern, these patch reefs will provide expanded fishing opportunities for private boat anglers and party/charter boat anglers alike. Governor Cuomo has been very active in his efforts to promote and expand recreational fishing opportunities in the Marine District and freshwaters throughout the state, and we applaud his latest efforts to bring this project to fruition.

New York’s reef building program has been relatively dormant for a number of years following a flurry of projects through the 1990s and early 2000s. The Fisherman Magazine was involved in a number of these reef building and expansion projects, providing funding through its Fisherman Reef Fund. The most notable of the projects was the creation of The Fisherman Reef in Great South Bay. With the cooperation of NYDEC, the Air National Guard, the US Coast Guard and Roman Sand & Stone, 100 specially constructed reef balls were deposited by helicopter along South Beach in Great South Bay at 40°37.954/73°14.595; 40°38.051/73°14.354; 40°38.016/73°14.327; 40°37.918/73°14.569. It was the first reef constructed of reef balls north of Florida, and they have been widely used for reef building projects in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans since then.

For a complete list of existing reef sites in the NY Marine District, go to https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/71702.html. For more detailed information and the locations of the individual artificial patch reefs within each site, contact Chris LaPorta at 631-444-0438.

Reef Deployment Schedule

Smithtown Reef: Three canal vessels and one barge of steel will be deployed to expand the artificial reef between June 8 and 15. The 3-acre reef is located 1.6 nautical miles from shore with a depth of 38-40 feet.
Shinnecock Reef: One barge of the Tappan Zee Bridge material, one barge of steel pipes and two canal vessels will be deployed to expand the artificial reef beginning Wednesday, May 2.The 35-acre reef is located 2 nautical miles from shore with a depth of 79-84 feet.
Moriches Reef: Two barges of Tappan Zee Bridge material and two canal vessels will be deployed in July and August to expand the artificial reef. The 14-acre reef is located 2.4 nautical miles from shore with a depth of 70-75 feet.
Fire Island Reef: Ten barges of Tappan Zee Bridge material, 11 canal vessels, one barge of steel and four barges of jetty rock will be deployed to expand the artificial reef between June 26 and 28. The 744-acre reef is located 2 nautical miles from shore with a depth of 62-73 feet.
Hempstead Reef: Twelve barges of Tappan Zee Bridge material and 11 canal vessels will be deployed in July and August to expand the artificial reef. The 744-acre reef is located 3.3 nautical miles from shore with a depth of 50-72 feet.
Rockaway Reef: One barge of Tappan Zee Bridge material will be deployed in July and August to expand the artificial reef. The 413-acre reef is located 1.6 nautical miles from shore with a depth of 32-40 feet.

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