For some of you non New Jersey seaside residents, you would be surprise to here that New Jersey has offshore reefs. You are probably asking yourselves, New Jersey has reefs? Where are they? Are they like the ones you see at the Great Barrier Reef? Let’s find out.

New Jersey Has Reefs

            You heard that right, New Jersey does have offshore reefs but not the kind you are thinking of. The reefs that New Jersey have are artificial, which means it is a man-made structure that is to mimic a natural reef. There are seventeen artificial reefs scattered up and down the coast (NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife). These reefs are made up of different man-made material like old subway cars and old sunken ships. These reefs help support different marine life. They build these reefs so they can attract fish, support recreational sport fishing and diving. The good thing is the structures are stripped of anything that can be harmful to marine life before they are sunk. What are the benefits of artificial reefs?

Overview of Cape May Reef.

Benefits

            Some might say that artificial reefs are just an excuse to throw away old subway cars and other structures but it’s not. It has many benefits. One benefit is it provides habitat for fish and helps rebuild fish populations. It’s like a city for Nemo’s and Dory’s. Since these reefs attract a variety of fish the sports fishing and scuba diving industries can benefit greatly from it as well. These reefs also help with job creation. That sounds odd but it is true. On the Division of Fish and Wildlife web page it states “recreational saltwater fishing brings in more than $640 million in retail sales and is directly responsible for nearly 10,000 jobs and more than $242 million in tax revenues, including $165 million in state and local taxes” (Division of Fish and Wildlife). It is crazy to think that an artificial reef can have this much of an economic impact. Since the creation of these reefs, “New Jersey’s commercial fishing industry ranks seventh in retail sales and supports $327million in salaries and wages and nearly 13,000 jobs” (Division of Fish and Wildlife). Not only does the reef provide benefits for marine life, it provides economic growth as well. Let that sink in.

Redbird subway car sunk for artificial reef.

In conclusion: The next time you hear that a train car is being put to rest at the bottom of the ocean, just remember that the fish are happy for their new home and the economy gets a boost.

-Brian Boylan, Slippery Rock University

Intern at Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center

New Jersey Scuba Diving.” Conservation – Adhesives & Consolidants ~ Artifacts & Shipwrecks ~ New Jersey Scuba Diving, njscuba.net/reefs/site_nj_redbirds.php.
NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife. “NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife – Artificial Reef Program Launches Into a New Season of Reefing.” Department of Human Services | Division of Developmental Disabilities, www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/news/2017/reefprogram17.htm
NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife. “NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife – Locations of New Jersey Artificial Reefs.” Office of the Governor | Murphy Administration Expands Patient Access to Medical Marijuana, Lowers Fees For Patients and Caregivers, www.nj.gov/dep/fgw/refloc00.htm.
http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/pdf/reefs/cape_may.pdf