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Marine Fisheries seeks public input on Artificial Reef Program enhancement

The Artificial Reef Program obtains concrete from the demolition of bridges, roadways piers and through other avenues. Photo courtesy of N.C. Marine Fisheries website

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MOREHEAD CITY – The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reef Program will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, in the Ocracoke Community Center to seek regional partners and input on a proposed artificial reef enhancement plan.

The Ocracoke meeting is one of four that Marine Fisheries is holding in the eastern region for input on this subject.

Artificial reefs are manmade underwater structures, typically built to promote marine life in areas with generally featureless bottoms.

In North Carolina, they serve as crucial spawning and foraging habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species. 

The division maintains 43 ocean artificial reefs, 15 of which serve as oyster sanctuaries, located from one-half mile to 38 miles from shore and situated so that they can be reached from every maintained inlet in the state.

According to the Marine Fisheries website, reefs create habitat for fish; fish habitats contribute to healthy fish populations; and healthy reef populations provide great fishing sites. Artificial reefs are considered crucial spawning and foraging habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species — so much so that the N.C. Coastal Habitat Protection Plan recommends expanding reef construction to offset past habitat degradation, habitat loss, and water quality degradation that can negatively impact coastal ecosystems.

Interested parties may speak the meeting or submit comments through email to Jordan Byrum, artificial reef coordinator, at jordan.byrum@ncdenr.gov.

The deadline for public comment is Aug. 24.

For more information about artificial reefs, visit the N.C. Marine Fisheries website here.