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Sunday, July 18, 2010

NY Artificial Reef Program to Get Boost from Saltwater License

Funds from the state saltwater fishing license and the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act (Wallop-Breaux) are being used to restore and enhance 11  reef sites and add one new one by creating reefs from a variety of materials that include rock provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from its dredging operations in New York Harbor. The south shore reef sites are Atlantic Beach, Fisherman (Yellow Bar), Fishing Line (McAllister Grounds), Fire Island, Hempstead, Kismet, Moriches, Rockaway and Shinnecock. The north shore sites are Matinecock and Smithtown. The new site is Twelve Mile reef, located south of the Moriches and Shinnecock reefs.

"By keeping saltwater license fees in-state, New York can improve an array of conservation programs - to the benefit of anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts," NYDEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said. "With the partnership developed by the State Legislature, the Army Corps of Engineers, DEC and the fishing community, this popular initiative can move forward."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its local sponsor, the Port Authority of NY & NJ, have multiple harbor dredge projects continuing through 2015. These projects could yield good rock material for several of the reef sites. This restoration plan will create valuable marine habitat and recreational opportunities.

"Maximizing all feasible, beneficial uses of material gathered in constructing and maintaining a world-class port and estuary, such as the further creation of artificial reefs in New York's waters, is a top priority for us," said Col. John R. Boulé, commander of the New York District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "We are pleased to be able to partner with New York to further improve and enhance the waters that we all share."

Up to now, the state has sold about 137,000 lifetime, annual, weekly and daily resident and non-resident saltwater licenses, with sales totaling $2.5 million. These funds supports important marine resource programs and is matched with federal sport fish restoration funding from the Wallop-Breaux Act. New York received $9.5 million from the Wallop-Breaux Act for licensed freshwater and saltwater anglers for use in this year's budget. $3 million of this money will be available specifically for the projects in the state's marine district. The state will get an additional $9 per newly licensed angler in future years' funding allocations.

Charles Witek, Vice Chair of the Coastal Conservation Association New York (CCA NY), said: "CCA NY has long supported the marine fishing license. We believe that this restoration of the artificial reef program is only the first of many benefits that anglers will enjoy in return for their license revenues."