Effort Builds on Largest Artificial Reef Expansion in State History and Bolsters Long Island's Economy through Increased Tourism and Recreation
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that the State's Artificial Reef Program deployed parts of the old Mill Basin Drawbridge on the Hempstead Reef to enhance local habitat as part of the Governor Andrew Cuomo's ongoing initiative to develop a stronger, more diverse marine ecosystem and provide shelter for fish and other marine life off New York's shores.
"Today's deployment of Mill Basin Drawbridge materials to the Hempstead Reef further supports Governor Cuomo's initiative to expand the State's Artificial Reef Program," said Commissioner Seggos. "The concrete bridge materials deployed today will serve to augment the local marine habitat and create additional benefits for both anglers and divers that frequent New York's artificial reefs."
DEC's Artificial Reef Program deployed a total of 1,000 cubic yards of the drawbridge building, 200 cubic yards of bridge support concrete, and 1,000 cubic yards of concrete barriers on the Hempstead Reef. All materials were deployed under the guidance of the DEC Reef Program. The concrete materials are comparable to the Tappan Zee Bridge materials deployed on Hempstead Reef under Governor Cuomo's Artificial Reef Initiative in 2018. The original Mill Basin Drawbridge, opened in 1940, was part of the Shore (Belt) Parkway bridge span system that once crossed Mill Basin in Brooklyn.
Today's deployment adds to Governor Cuomo's Artificial Reef Initiative in which an unprecedented effort deployed large volumes of recycled materials that have been cleaned of contaminants from the New York State Thruway Authority (old Tappan Zee Bridge materials), New York Canal Corporation/New York Power Authority (Erie Canal vessels and two turbines), New York State Department of Transportation (steel trusses, pipes, and rock), and New York City Department of Transportation (parts of the City Island Bridge) onto New York Reef sites in 2018. DEC manages the state's 12 artificial reefs, which include two reefs in Long Island Sound, two in the Great South Bay, and eight in the Atlantic Ocean.
In May 2018, the Governor announced the inaugural deployment at Shinnecock Reef, which included recycled materials from the old Tappan Zee Bridge, State Department of Transportation (DOT), New York Power Authority, and Canal Corporation. In July, deployments were made at Smithtown and Rockaway reefs, and deployments were made on Hempstead Reef and Moriches Reef in August. Additional materials were deployed to Fire Island Reef in October. In December, DEC's Artificial Reef Program deployed parts of the old City Island Bridge in the Bronx on the Hempstead Reef.
The major benefits of constructing New York's artificial reefs include improving the existing habitats in order to increase local marine biodiversity, stimulating more productive and diverse aquatic ecosystems, and promoting environmental sustainability through fish habitat improvement. Concrete and steel surplus bridge materials have proven to be both stable and durable reef building material while providing shelter and forage opportunities for finfish and crustaceans who inhabit such underwater structures such as tautog, fluke, black sea bass, scup, and lobsters.
DEC's Artificial Reef Program is popular with many local fishermen and divers and helps to support the local Long Island economy. Additional patch reef creation through material deployments will increase the use and enjoyment of these valuable New York State resources. Anglers and divers who access the New York artificial reefs support local businesses through the purchase of fuel, bait and tackle, marine equipment, and by using for hire party/charter and dive vessels.
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 new initiative, supporting the region's growing marine economy which accounts for approximately 9.7 percent of Long Island's total GDP.
All who fish in New York state marine waters are required to enroll in the New York Recreational Marine Fishing Registry. The Registry provides important information for setting quotas, size and bag limits, and fishing seasons each year. More information on the Registry can be found on the DEC website or by contacting DEC's Marine Fishing Access Unit at (631) 444-0438.
Reef construction is part of Governor Cuomo's NY is Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, 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 on this initiative, go to Governor's press release page. For more information about DEC's Artificial Reef Program visit DEC's website.