As directed by the Governor in April 2018, and with unprecedented, multi-agency coordination, recycled materials from the State Department of Transportation, New York Power Authority/Canal Corporation and the Thruway Authority, among other public and private partners, are being put to new use and helping to develop New York’s artificial reef sites.
In his 2020 State of the State address, Governor Cuomo committed to doubling New York’s existing reef acreage by expanding seven of 12 existing sites and creating four new artificial reefs in Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. This expansion will be complete by 2022, resulting in a stronger and more diverse marine ecosystem.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) manages the state’s 12 artificial reefs, which include two reefs in Long Island Sound, two in the Great South Bay, and eight in the Atlantic Ocean. The Hempstead Reef, a 744-acre reef site located 3.3 nautical miles south of Jones Beach State Park in the Atlantic Ocean, with depths ranging from 50-72 feet, is the most recent recipient of recycled materials. The continued expansion of New York’s artificial reefs supports Governor Cuomo’s efforts to bolster Long Island’s tourism, fishing, and diving industries.
Materials used for the reef expansion are being strategically placed and include hard, durable structures such as rock and concrete. DEC oversees cleaning of contaminants from recycled reef materials to mitigate potential impacts to sea life before being deployed to the reef sites. Materials deployed to the Hempstead Reef include 16 rail cars donated to DEC by Wells Fargo Rail Corporation, a steel turbine provided by NYPA/Canal Corporation, and the 70-foot steel tugboat, “Jane.” Once materials and vessels settle to the sea floor, larger fish, such as blackfish, black sea bass, cod and summer flounder, move in to build habitats within the new structures, and encrusting organisms such as barnacles, sponges, anemones, corals, and mussels cling to and cover the material. Over time, these recycled structures create a habitat like a natural reef.