Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently launched the second year of the largest artificial reef expansion in New York State history.
The State deployed materials that will create new marine habitat at Fire Island Reef as part of an ongoing initiative to develop a stronger, more diverse marine ecosystem and provide shelter for fish and other marine life off New York’s shore. The materials for the reef expansion – as well as six more announced for this year at Atlantic Beach, McAllister Grounds, Yellowbar, Kismet, Matinecock and Twelve Mile – will be strategically placed to also enhance Long Island’s recreational and sport fishing and diving industries.
With unprecedented, multi-agency coordination that began last year, recycled materials from the State Department of Transportation (DOT), New York Power Authority (NYPA)/Canal Corporation, and the Thruway Authority, among other partners, are being put to new use and helping to develop New York’s artificial reef sites. The 744-acre Fire Island reef, located two miles from shore with a depth of 62-73 feet, is the most recent recipient of recycled materials cleaned of contaminants that include:
From the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:
- The retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers steel vessel M/V HUDSON.
From DOT’s Staten Island Expressway, Kew Gardens bridge in Queens and Kosciuszko bridge sections, nearly 1,000 tons of material, including:
- Steel bridge girders 20 to 60 ft. long
- Steel pipe ranging in size from 20 to 40 ft. long
- Steel sign structure 50 ft. long
- 10 steel lifting tower pieces 10 to 15 ft. long
From NYPA/Canal Corporation:
- A 30 ft. tainter gate
- Lift bridge sections up to 34 ft.
- 33 ft. miter gates
- Six 20 ft. steel pontoons
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. The artificial reef expansion will increase the biodiversity of habitats for a variety of fish and crustacea, promote biodiversity and environmental sustainability, and boost New York’s recreational fishing, sport fishing, and diving industries. Once materials and vessels settle to the sea floor, larger fish like blackfish, black seabass, cod, 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.
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 initiative, supporting the region’s growing marine economy which accounts for approximately 9.7 percent of Long Island’s total GDP.
DEC Artificial Reef Program manages the state’s 12 artificial reefs (two reefs in Long Island Sound, two in the Great South Bay, and eight in the Atlantic Ocean). Visit DEC’s website for more information about the Artificial Reef Program.
A map, site coordinates (PDF) and additional information on New York State’s Artificial Reefs are available to plan trips to a New York State reef site.
Before visiting one of New York’s artificial reefs, see the current New York State Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations. View DEC’s artificial reef building video on YouTube and learn more about our volunteer observation program on DEC’s website.