Group to Push for Artificial Reefs

New Jersey has a robust artificial reef program that RISAA hopes Rhode Island will emulate. During the summer of 2007, a total of 500 prefabricated "reef ball" units were deployed on the Ocean City (OC) and the Wildwood (WW) reefs as part of the NJ DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife's Artificial Reef Program. Photo courtesy NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife.

The Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association (RISAA) has announced that it will push the state to actively pursue construction of more artificial reefs in its nearshore waters, thereby creating new underwater habitat for such species as lobsters, sea bass, tautog, cunner, scup, flounder and a variety of forage fish. These species would in turn provide food, money and recreation for the state’s large population of divers and fishermen.

RISAA president Steve Medeiros pointed out that other coastal states such as New Jersey, New York, Delaware, South Carolina and Florida already have serious artificial-reef programs in place, which serve to benefit the economy in those states. “Their use of sunken ships, subway cars, army tanks and other debris have created underwater money-makers,” he said.

Medeiros added that such reef programs provide jobs, since the reef components must first be stripped of hazardous materials, prepared for sinking and transported to the selected sites. Once sunk, the reefs continue to provide income to the state through license fees and other expenses (eg., fuel, lodging, food, tackle) generated by lobstermen, charter boats, commercial fishermen, divers and anglers.

RISAA members interested in joining the Artificial Reefs Committee should send e-mail to Steve Medeiros at (stevem@risaa.org). A planning meeting is schedule for Thursday, September 16, at 6:30 p.m. at 6 Arnold Road in Coventry, Rhode Island. RSVP is necessary.

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