DEP Artificial Reef Program Sinks Two More Vessels

New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) artificial reef program is sinking two more vessels to enhance recreational fishing opportunities and enhance ocean habitat for fish, DEP informed.

The program sank the 68-foot trawler, Austin, as part of the Axel Carlson Reef, 4.4 nautical miles southeast of Manasquan Inlet.

The 115-foot surf clam vessel, Lisa Kim, is scheduled to be sunk as part of the Wildwood Reef, 8.3 miles northeast of Cape May Inlet this Friday, weather permitting.

The boats are among as many as 10 vessels the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife plans to deploy by the end of fall.

“For more than 30 years, New Jersey has had a robust program of creating artificial reefs that enhance offshore habitats for fish and draw in thousands of anglers and sport divers,” said DEP commissioner Bob Martin. “These latest additions continue that tradition and firmly establish the program as being back in business.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is providing $119,250 to the artificial reef program because the DEP was able to reach a compromise that allows commercial interests to have continued access to portions of two reefs in state waters and calls for the construction of a new reef for recreational fishing, also in state waters, DEP explained.

Among the vessels expected to be deployed before the end of the year is the former U.S. Coast Guard Cutter ‘Tamaroa’. Originally a U.S. Navy fleet tug, the Tamaroa is also the last surviving vessel from the World War II Battle of Iwo Jima.

Old vessels and other materials used in artificial reefs provide surfaces for organisms such as algae, barnacles, mussels, sea stars, and sea fans to grow on. This colonization occurs in as little as two weeks. These organisms attract smaller fish which, in turn, attract black sea bass, tautog, summer flounder, scup, lobster and other sought-after species.

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