State Releases Completed Permit Application to Enhance Existing Reef Sites, Create Four New Reefs
DEC Accepting Public Comment on Proposal until Jan. 15, 2021
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today released the completed permit application to expand seven of the State's 12 existing artificial reef sites and create four new sites for public review and comment. The reef expansion and new artificial reef sites will provide additional marine habitat in New York's waters to support recreational and commercial fisheries and bolster industries such as tourism and diving, that rely on healthy marine ecosystems. The Notice of Complete Application posted today in DEC's Environmental Notice Bulletin starts a 30-day public comment period on the proposal to grow the State's Artificial Reef Network. DEC is accepting public comments through Jan. 15, 2021.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Over the past three years, New York has overseen the largest expansion of artificial reef acreage in State history. This sustained effort to enhance New York's network of artificial reefs is a testament to Governor Cuomo's commitment to protect, enhance, and restore our state's marine ecosystems while supporting the economies of Long Island's coastal communities. Today's announcement is yet another milestone for New York's Artificial Reef Program, that is building a stronger and more resilient network of artificial reefs."
In Governor Cuomo's 2020 State of the State address, he committed to doubling New York's existing reef acreage by expanding seven of the State's 12 existing sites and creating four new artificial reefs in Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean by 2022. Currently, New York's existing artificial reefs cover approximately 3,389 acres. This proposal would expand New York's reefs by an additional 3,423 acres for a total of 6,812 acres.
In April 2020, DEC finalized a Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) for the Artificial Reef Program to address advancements in science and expertise relating to artificial reef development. The SGEIS proposes expanding, creating, and continuing use of reef sites along New York's shores. The first Generic Environmental Impact Statement and Artificial Reef Plan was developed in 1993.
DEC encourages interested members of the public to provide comments on the application. The Notice of Complete Application posted today in DEC's Environmental Notice Bulletin and the DEC website starts a 30-day public comment period on the proposal to grow the State's Artificial Reef Network. All comments should be provided in writing to Sherri Aicher, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, SUNY @ Stony Brook 50 Circle Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790-3409, 631-444-0403 by Jan. 15, 2021.
Artificial reefs enhance the environment by creating a biologically diverse area that provides food and shelter to a range of marine organisms. Artificial reefs are built out of hard, durable material (structures) such as rock, concrete, and steel, and usually in the form of surplus or scrap materials cleaned of contaminants before being recycled on the reef sites. Once materials settle to the sea floor, larger fish like blackfish, black seabass, cod, and summer flounder move in to utilize the habitat, and encrusting organisms such as barnacles, sponges, anemones, corals, and mussels cling to and cover the material. Over time, these recycled structures become habitat similar to a natural reef and provide increased saltwater fishing and scuba diving opportunities to the public.
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 the Governor's initiative, supporting the region's growing marine economy which accounts for approximately 9.7 percent of Long Island's total GDP.
Artificial reef construction is part of Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting, an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. For more information about DEC's Artificial Reef Program visit DEC's website.
New York's Artificial Reef Program is an example of the Governor's commitment to restoring marine ecosystems and economy. Coupled with the nation's largest offshore wind agreement, record investments in the Environmental Protection Fund and Clean Water Infrastructure Act, a ban on offshore drilling, passage of the 'bunker bill' to prohibit the use of purse seines to protect this keystone species, continued progress on the Long Island Shellfish Restoration initiative, and other programs to protect and improve water quality, the Governor's efforts are realizing a cleaner and healthier marine environment for all New Yorkers.