Beach Haven Endorses Artificial Reef Program

By ERIC ENGLUND | May 15, 2019

Beach Haven — At its May 13 meeting, Beach Haven Mayor Nancy Taggart Davis enacted a proclamation supporting the the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association in its efforts to build two artificial reefs. According to the group, the two main reefs that support Beach Haven fishermen are the Little Egg Harbor and Garden State South reefs. They are in decline because they have been sinking into the sand and no material has been added since 2005. The structures have to be replaced with new structures to support marine life.

John Lewis, president of the association and captain of the Insatiable, said the artificial reefs are composed mostly of old boats, obsolete military vehicles, concrete construction debris and railroad cars. He said the new reefs would consist of two old tugboats at a total cost of $100,000.

“The reefs attract the fish,” he said. “They reproduce better in this kind of environment and the population grows, making it a great area for fishing.”

He said reefs can be casualties of the constant movement of sand due to wave action, especially during storms, which will scour around the base of any structure, causing that structure to sink into the sand. Heavy, inert objects such as concrete and rock tend to sink into the sand and disappear at the reefs.

In the proclamation, the council notes that Beach Haven “was one of the first recreational fishing destinations on the East Coast of the United States with a long and storied history of sport fishing dating back one hundred and fifty plus years.”

The proclamation recognizes the importance of recreational fishing to the community as a whole, to local tourism, jobs and revenue. The document also notes that children and young adults have taken it upon themselves to raise awareness of these issues.

“Their vision and volunteerism should be an inspiration to all,” said Davis.“It should be our goal that these Junior Mates will be fishing these reefs successfully for decades to come. I call upon the people of Beach Haven to support this initiative to expand and maintain artificial reefs.”

Davis said the association’s captains have hired William Figley, who launched the state Department of Environmental Protection’s artificial reef program 35 years ago. Prior to retiring in 2005, Figley told the council, he oversaw the construction of 15 artificial reef sites that stretch from Sandy Hook down to Cape May.

He said healthy reefs attract more fishermen and thus give a boost to the local economy.

“You’ll have more fishermen eating in our restaurants, staying in our motels and shopping in our stores,” he said.

He said reefs also draw many invertebrates, which the fish feed on.

“And this should draw more fish that the anglers are interested in catching,” Figley said.

— Eric Englund

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