reef ball Artificial Reef Issues - good habitat and good diving  

On November 2, 2015 the NJDEP published final rules on new Artificial Reef Regulations. 
A letter announcing the rules can be viewed at:

The regulations can be seen here:

Maps are here:

On February 2nd the New Jersey Register published a proposed rule amending our artificial reef regulations.  The proposal would limit commercial and recreational fixed gear (potting) to three small sections on our two inshore reefs.  The Sandy Hook (1 zone) and Axel Carlson (2 zones) reefs will have small sections known as “full access zones” where potting will be permitted.  Limitations on size of strings, times for attending them and penalties are included in the proposal. 

 Public comments can be submitted thru April 2, 2015 by using the following website: 

 Press releases are available here:

 The regulations can be obtained at either of the following:           
(Click on NJ - New Jersey Register in left hand column, put in reef for search)

 Graphics of the “full access zones” are available here:

January 8, 2015  -  
Early this evening the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council (NJMFC) voted unanimously to move the Artificial Reef Regulation on to be published as a Proposed Rule in the NJ Register on February 2nd. This compromise between the Commercial and Recreational fishermen was brokered by the NJMFC Artificial Reef Advisory Committee, NJ Marine Fisheries Bureau and the NJDEP Commissioner’s Office. It allows the use of sections of the two reefs within State waters (Axel Carson and Sandy Hook) by Commercial and Recreational pot fishermen with restrictions and penalties. This regulation once published will have a 60 day public comment period. Thereafter, comments will be considered and a Final Rule will be published in a subsequent issue of the NJ Register.

2011 - No Reef News published.  See their website:
2010 - The New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife has issued the

Third Edition of Guide to Fishing and Diving New Jersey Reefs - out of print.    

State Senate panel OKs ‘pots off reefs’ measure   

By RICHARD DEGENER Staff Writer | Posted: Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Press of Atlantic City

A bill that would ban fish pots from the state's artificial reef system was approved unanimously by the state Senate's Environment and Energy Committee on Monday.
The bill promoted by recreational fishing groups and opposed by commercial fishermen is the third attempt to get the legislation enacted. Two earlier attempts passed the full Senate but failed to get Assembly approval.
Those attempts resulted in a compromise proposal by commercial fishermen, but rejected by the recreational industry, and a plan by the state Department of Environmental Protection to give anglers exclusive use of the reefs for six months of the year. The DEP proposal went nowhere.
The latest bill still faces a number of hurdles. Adam Nowalsky, of the Galloway Township-based Recreational Fishing Alliance, said the next step is to get approval by a state Assembly committee of a companion bill.
"We're very excited the legislation has been voted out of the Senate committee. We look forward to a full vote in the Senate and a companion bill in the Assembly. Last year the Assembly bill never made it through committee. We're optimistic the third time will be the charm," Nowalsky said.
Marty Buzas, a commercial fisherman from Wildwood, drove to Trenton on Monday to oppose the bill. He said the bill would allow hook-and-line fishing on the reefs, but not the fish pots commercial fishermen use.
"The problem is you can't catch conchs and lobsters with hook-and-line. It would totally eliminate us from the reefs," Buzas said.
Even if the bill passes, it would apply only to the two artificial reefs in state waters. There are 13 other reefs in federal waters outside three miles. Nowalsky said they would approach the Mid-Atlantic Fishing Management Council, which regulates fish in those waters, to prevent pot fishing in them as well.
The main issue is gear conflicts. Anglers say their gear gets caught on the pots and ropes the commercial fishermen use. Buzas said anglers also hang up their lines on the wrecks. He said fishing such areas while drifting leads to the problem, but if anchored there is less chance to get hung up.
"They're fishing on wrecks. It's the same as fishing on a junkyard," Buzas said.
Finfish could still be harvested by commercial fishing using the hook-and-line method. Nowalsky said 90 percent of the lobsters landed off New Jersey come from other areas, some as far out as the continental shelf.
The RFA said the area in question is just .3 percent of the sea floor off New Jersey, yet 20 percent of the recreational catch comes from it. This causes an economic ripple as anglers spend money at marinas, bait and tackle stores, party boats, hotels and motels, on fuel and other expenditures.
The RFA also notes the 2005 state-approved Artificial Reef Plan said the intent of the reefs is for hook-and-line fishing.
The commercial industry counters that the 2005 plan did not specifically ban pots and the original reef plan from 1987 opened them to both recreational and commercial interests. Much of the funding to create the reefs comes from the recreational sector through donations and taxes sport fishermen pay, although the commercial side argues that the reefs are also supported by county, state and federal funding to which they contribute.
Nowalsky said allowing pots could endanger sport-fishing restoration funds. He said other East Coast states have said pots were not compatible with their reefs.
According to the state, about 50 commercial fishermen are actively fishing the reefs, compared with 1.3 million anglers in the state.
State Sen. Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May, Cumberland, Atlantic, said he still hopes for a compromise. He said a big part of the problem is illegal potting, both by commercial and recreational fishermen. Getting illegal pots off the reefs would reduce gear conflicts, he said.
"Recreational fishermen are getting tangled up, but most of the time not from legal, responsible commercial fishermen. I still think we can get the RFA and commercial folks together to compromise. I really don't support this as it is," Van Drew said.

© 1970-2010 Press of Atlantic City Media Group


(04/119) TRENTON - The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today released a copy of the update to its "Artificial Reef Management Plan for New Jersey" for public comment. The Plan has helped to guide New Jersey's extensive reef building efforts at 14 artificial reef locations for more than 17 years. New Jersey is now a national leader in artificial reef development and this plan will strengthen our reef program through appropriate standards and fisheries goals," said DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell.

Artificial reefs are an environmental and economic boon for New Jersey. New fishing and diving opportunities enhance our shore economy, while our marine ecosystems gain new habitat. The new draft of the Plan covers all aspects of the multi-faceted program, including its objectives, history, benefits, site selection and other considerations. It also establishes a protective standard for the stability, durability and effectiveness of various materials used in reef construction. Currently there is no uniform national standard for the durability of reef materials. Over the years, New Jersey has had tremendous success with its artificial reef program. Past studies of artificial reefs show that they may be colonized by up to 200 species of fish and invertebrates. Reefs have 800 to 1,000 times more biomass than open ocean. Artificial reefs can also form important nurseries for juvenile fish.

In recent years, DEP added several ships and tugboats to its reefs, as well as more unusual materials such as the 250 decommissioned New York City subway cars added at five reef locations in the summer of 2003. DEP has formed an independent committee to oversee a multi-year monitoring program at the subway car sites that will study water quality, fisheries and biota, and the durability of the reefs. The results of this study will further help New Jersey refine its artificial reef program.

The state currently has 14 artificial reef sites where it periodically deploys new reef materials. These sites include: Sandy Hook Reef, Sea Girt Reef, Shark River Reef, Axel Carlson Reef (offshore from Mantoloking), Barnegat Light Reef, Garden State North Reef (offshore from Harvey Cedars), Garden South Reef (offshore from Spray Beach), Little Egg Reef (offshore from Holgate), Atlantic City Reef, Great Egg Reef (offshore from Atlantic City), Ocean City Reef, Wildwood Reef, Deep Water Reef (offshore from Wildwood), and Cape May Reef. The DEP is accepting public comments on the draft for the next 60 days.

A copy of the update to the Plan is available at the DEP website at 
Send your written comments to:
Bill Figley, Reef Coordinator NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife PO Box 418Port Republic, NJ   08241
*In providing specific comments, please reference the page or section number in the plan to which you are referring.

A NEW WRECK on the Shark River Reef - July 23, 2001
APL 31
- From the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard - A 260 foot Barracks Barge!
Now known as "Jack's Spot" for Jack Myers, a Brick Township fisherman and also chairman of the state Marine Fisheries Council from 1984 to 1998. Without an engine, it only cost $25,000 to clean and tow (That is lots of t-shirts divers bought.) Peggy got to witness the sinking from the Outlaw. Report - it is on it's starboard side by about 70 degrees, sand at 125 feet.

12/01 - New York has been working to have artificial reefs in NY waters protected as Artificial Reef Management Areas

We need Diver concerns in writing this new NY proposal!
See Jack Fullmer letter (NJCDC Legislation Director) below-
(12/26/01 - LIDA will meet with Steve Heins in January.)
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As some of you know, New York has been working to have artificial reefs in NY waters protected as Artificial Reef Management Areas.  In the beginning (November) they were calling these Special Management Areas.
LIDA (Long Island Divers Assoc.) has been working to allow divers to continue their access and NJ Council of Diving Clubs has joined with LIDA to this end.  We have gotten spearfishing added to the 'taking of fish' but we have a way to go.  I would like the wording 'taken by hand' added (and maybe gaff...).

We are now working on the prohibitions to "move, alter, damage or remove any structure or object'.  As with any ruling lately, it doesn't explicitly state that divers could anchor into the wreck without being law-breakers - (the NY state guy, Steve Heins, says the ruling wasn't meant to be a problem for divers but we have seen how that goes down the line....) 
Or that we could take an artifact off a purposely sunk vessel.  (See below)

If you dive in NY waters, you might want to add your comments (address below) - they have refused to have a hearing.
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This is the newest info (12/18) from NY on their reef protection areas.
I had them convert it to a word.doc since their word perfect file was messed up in several places during conversion. And I have added some information from Steve Heins that was sent to Paula Jerman of LIDA at the bottom.
Section 40.7  Special Management Areas

(Statutory Authority: ECL 3-0301(2)(m); ECL 13-0360)

(a) Definitions.
(1) artificial reef - a hard structure deliberately placed in a marine or coastal water body for the purpose of imitating environmental conditions found on natural underwater rock outcroppings, shellfish reefs, or coral reefs.
(2) wreck - an abandoned shipwreck which occurred through an accidental circumstance or deliberate scuttling or sinking that was not part of artificial reef construction activities.
(3) natural reef - a naturally occurring and persistent hard structure formation composed of rock or rocks, gravel or hard-packed sediment, which generally rises above the surrounding sea floor and supports or is
capable of supporting a marine ecosystem dependent upon hard-bottom habitat.
(4) special management area - an area of the marine and coastal district in which artificial reefs, wrecks and/or natural reefs are located, so designated by this Part, within which the rules and regulations restricting the taking of fish, shellfish and crustaceans may be different from those regulations outside of the bounds.
(5) artificial reef management area - a special management area surrounding and including an artificial reef;
(6) spearfishing - taking of fish using any penetrating device or spear, including mechanical or pneumatic spear guns , but not powerheads or explosive-tipped spears.
 (7) the Race - The area known as the Race shall have the same meaning as set forth in 6NYCRR Part 44.1(i).

(b) PURPOSE.  The purposes of this section shall be to provide controls on the taking of fish, shellfish and crustaceans in defined areas that contain artificial reefs, natural reefs and/or wrecks, consistent with
state, federal and interstate management plans and with the marine fisheries conservation and management policy set forth in Section 13-0105 of the ECL, and to protect the physical structure and ecological
integrity of artificial reefs, natural reefs and wrecks and their associated marine habitat.

(c) Prohibitions within all Special Management Areas (SMAs).
(1)Within the bounds of any and all SMAs, no person, other than an authorized agent of the Department, shall:
(a) possess, set, use or operate any net of any kind, except for a hand-operated net used in the landing of fish legally taken by angling; 
(b) possess, use or operate any dredge of any kind;
(c) possess, set, use or operate setlines, longlines or any hook-and-line gear other than hand-held gear used for angling;
(2) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prohibit the transportation of lawfully possessed fishing gear or fish over the waters of any special management zone.

(d) Artificial Reef Management Areas.
(1) Designation of Artificial Reef Management Areas. All Department-managed artificial reefs within state marine and coastal waters, including the area within 500 feet of the bounds of these artificial reefs, are designated as artificial reef management areas, or ARMAs.  A description and location of these artificial reefs is given in 6NYCRR, Section 40.6 (f), which is incorporated herein by this reference.
(2) Prohibitions within Artificial Reef Management Areas. 
In addition to the prohibitions in paragraph (c) of this section, within the bounds of any and all ARMAs, no person, other than an authorized agent of the Department, shall:
(i) move, alter, damage or remove any structure or object, other than personal property;
(ii) take any fish by any means, other than by angling or spearfishing;
(iii) possess, set, use or operate traps or pots of any kind.

(e) Designation of other Special Management Areas.
(1) Fishers Island Special Management Area (FISMA).  The FISMA is a special management area which includes extensive areas of natural reefs, and which is described by the following bounds: all New York State waters north and east of Fishers Island to the New York-Connecticut and New York-Rhode Island state boundary lines and within one mile of the south and west shores of Fishers Island.
(2) Special requirements for taking of lobsters in FISMA.
(i) No person, other than the holder of a New York State non-commercial lobster permit,  shall fish, set or use any lobster pots or possess any American lobsters, Homarus americanus, within the FISMA without first obtaining a FISMA permit from the Department. The Department shall furnish forms for application for such permit.  Any person who is legally eligible to take lobsters from the FISMA for commercial purposes
and who holds the requisite New York State  commercial lobster permit provided for by section 13-0329 of the ECL is eligible to apply for the FISMA permit.  Any person requesting a FISMA permit must furnish the Department with their commercial lobster permit before being issued the FISMA permit.  The holder of a FISMA permit may take and land lobsters only from the FISMA, and not from any other waters.
(ii) Notwithstanding any other provision of 6NYCRR Part 44, the holder of a FISMA permit may set, use or otherwise fish a total of not more than five hundred (500) lobster pots within the waters of the FISMA at any one time.
(iii) No lobster pot may be placed in the waters of FISMA unless it bears a tag issued by the Department or an authorized agent of the Department for the year in which the pot is fished.  New tags shall be
issued annually.  Such trap tags shall be issued consistent with the provisions of 6NYCRR Part 44,  except that FISMA permit holders shall receive tags for no more than 500 pots or the maximum number of pots
which they are permitted to fish under the rules of the Department or the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission at the time in effect whichever is lower (plus replacement tags for lost gear as provided in
6NYCRR Part 44).  FISMA trap tags may not be used to fish outside FISMA waters, and no FISMA permitholder shall receive or use trap tags to fish in any other waters.
(iv) Between the dates of September 15 and October 15, and between the dates of April 1 and May 15, all FISMA permit holders must remove all lobster pots from the waters of the FISMA.  The department may, by written direction of the Chief of the Bureau of Marine Resources, require removal of lobster pots from the waters of the FISMA during two alternate periods of four to six weeks to reflect changes in lobster molting and spawning seasons.
(v) Not more than two lobster pots may be attached to any single buoyed line, also known as a trawl, within the FISMA, except that three lobster pots may be attached to a trawl within that portion of the Race that falls within the FISMA.
 (vi) FISMA permits shall be non-transferrable, and not assignable, except that a FISMA permit may be transferred to an immediate family member who has also received by transfer the New York State commercial lobster permit from the same person, as authorized by the Environmental Conservation Law.
(vii) FISMA permits shall expire on December 31, and new permits must be issued annually.  In calendar year 2001, such permits will be issued to any qualified applicant.  Thereafter, such permits will be issued only to persons who held them in the preceding year.
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