November 24, 2020
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–New Jersey’s artificial reef network has been significantly expanded through a deployment of 6,000 tons of concrete on the Manasquan Inlet reef site, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection announced.
Material for the first deployment on Oct. 28 consisted of 74 concrete forms, measuring 40 feet x 8 feet x 1.5 feet each, donated by Maher Terminals in Elizabeth, Union County. Another 77 forms were deployed Nov. 10. The forms, once used by U.S. Customs to scan shipping containers, were no longer needed and were slated to be recycled.
“This beneficial collaboration gives new life to these materials, keeping it out of landfills and providing habitat for a wide array of marine life, including species important to New Jersey’s world class commercial and recreational fishing sectors,” said Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “We are proud to partner with Maher Terminals to enhance the marine ecosystem of our coastal waters.”
Artificial reefs are typically made up of concrete, steel, decommissioned ships and barges and provide a habitat for a variety of marine life. DEP studies have shown that these materials are colonized quickly with organisms such as algae, barnacles, mussels, sea stars, crabs, sponges and corals.
The structure of the reef, and the feeding opportunities provided by the animals growing on the reef, attract species such as black sea bass, tautog and lobster, and provide excellent opportunities for recreational anglers and divers.
“Maher Terminals recognizes the significant interconnection between providing efficient port and terminal-related services and our responsibility to the environment and communities where we operate and call home,” said Gary Cross, CEO of Maher Terminals. “The deployment of this reef off the New Jersey coast is part of our broader commitment to strengthening the local marine ecosystem and to investing in a greener future. We’re excited to give these concrete platforms a second life as part of New Jersey’s Artificial Reef Program.”
Encompassing a total of 25 square miles of ocean floor, the New Jersey Artificial Reef Program began in 1984, and currently consists of four reefs in New Jersey waters and 13 in federal waters. The program is administered by the DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Fisheries Administration. The program is sustained largely by donations of reef materials from private organizations and companies.
The Manasquan Inlet reef is approximately two miles east of the inlet and is one of the newest reefs in the artificial reef system. Center point coordinates are 40° 04.617’ N and 073° 59.040’ W. The reef footprint encompasses 0.84 square miles, but only two deployments had been made prior to today. The new material adds nearly 1.25 acres of artificial reef habitat on what was formerly featureless sand bottom.
This new feature inside the Manasquan Inlet reef site will be called the Maher Terminals Reef in recognition of the donation of material. Maher Terminals has also committed to revisiting the reef site annually for several years to document the progression of material from bare concrete to a reef ecosystem.
Earlier this year, New Jersey deployed a 150-foot long caisson gate on the Deepwater reef site, a tugboat on the Sandy Hook reef site and a memorial reef on the Atlantic City reef.