The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries Artificial Reef Program made several reef improvements in the last few weeks of May, reported a news release recently sent out by the agency.
The program completed the removal of the old Oregon Inlet bridge, part of a multi-year effort with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. This project included 68 barges loaded with bridge materials, totaling approximately 80,000 tons of concrete. The equipment was transported to eight different reef sites: AR-130, AR-140, AR-145 and AR-160, all off Oregon Inlet; AR-250 and AR-255, both off Ocracoke Inlet; AR-320, off Beaufort Inlet; and AR-340, off Bogue Inlet. This is the largest amount of material associated with an artificial reef project in the history of the artificial reef program, the statement said.
Two reefs in Long Bay (AR-430 and AR-460) each received approximately 1,500 tons of recycled concrete pipes. This project was funded by revenue from inshore recreational fishing licenses and created new fishing opportunities for anglers on Oak Island, Holden Beach and Ocean Isle. All 3,000 tons of concrete pipe were donated, including approximately 1,100 tons from DOT yards in Columbus and Bladen County. Much of this line was damaged in Hurricane Florence and would otherwise have cost the DOT $65,000 to dispose of in a landfill.
The Artificial Reef Program has partnered with two external organizations for memorial reef projects: Veteran Memorial Reefs and Eternal Reefs. Each of these organizations places the cremated ashes of loved ones in concrete reef structures or reef balls which are then deployed to a reef site. These memorial markers and reef balls were placed at AR-372 off Wrightsville Beach and AR-360 off Topsail, respectively. Family members were able to witness the deployments of the war memorials.
The Artificial Reef Program has partnered with the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina to improve AR-291 near Bayview in the Pamlico River. The materials were purchased by CCA from Natrx, a Raleigh-based company that 3D printed 100 concrete reef structures for this project. The deployment of these structures was funded by a US Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Grant which supports the artificial reef program. Anglers in the area can expect to catch brook trout and striped bass on the reef this summer and fall.
An artificial reef is an artificial underwater structure, usually built to promote marine life in generally featureless bottom areas. In North Carolina, they serve as crucial spawning and feeding habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species.
The Marine Fisheries Division maintains 68 artificial reefs, located in estuarine waters 38 miles from shore. They are located so that they can be reached from all maintained entrances in the state, the press release said.
For more information about the program or the sinking of the ship, contact Artificial Reef Program Coordinator Jordan Byrum at 252-808-8036 or [email protected].
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