Clean Ocean Action

NJ Cuts-out Standards for Artificial Reef Materials

COA supports NJ’s artificial reef program and works to ensure it remains the best in the nation.  The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife is recommending “a limited revision” to the “Artificial Reef Management Plan for NJ” to reinstate subway cars as acceptable reef material.  However, the revisions remove a section that sets standards for “Other Suitable Materials.”  Also, Appendix A (Policy Directive 2003-02) is deleted, which has provisions such as providing “any material proposed for artificial reefs in the future shall be carefully evaluated to demonstrate that the material is pollution free.”  The new plan must be revised to include standards.  The proposed revisions are posted at

NJ Artificial Reef Program 2006: A Success

     The 2007 Edition of “NJ Reef News,” a NJDEP newsletter about NJ‘s Artificial Reef Program revealed a successful 2006 program and announced plans for 2007.  In 2006, a new reef was sited off Townsends Inlet, which has received 16 patch reefs containing concrete castings and reef balls and a 31-foot vessel.  In addition, 500,000 tons of rock and eight vessels ranging in size from 31 to 178 feet long, as well as 17 sponsored patch reefs were placed. 
     Already in store for 2007 is 500,000 tons of rock, 600 reef balls, 150 concrete castings, and two 70+ foot trawlers and a 51-foot fire boat.  To see the list of sponsors, more information about the reef program, as well as fish recipes, visit  

Documents & Plans, and COA's Comments

Several plans and permits for artificial reefs have been released for public review and comment.  COA provided comments on the following documents related to artificial reefs in New Jersey based on current science and research:

More Information:

March 18, 2005

Clean Ocean Action supports New Jersey’s Artificial Reef Program and the recent NJDEP permit application for NJ’s 15 artificial reef sites as long as the permit application is consistent with current federal and state policy and law.  This statement reiterates and clarifies Clean Ocean Action’s position on artificial reefs and related permits.


COA & Artificial Reefs

Artificial reefs are valuable.  Clean Ocean Action (COA) does not oppose New Jersey’s Artificial Reef Program.  Indeed, artificial reefs are biological systems mimicking local natural ecosystems that last decades and provide important habitats and feeding stations for fish.  Current policy requires that materials for reefs be pollutant-free and long-lasting to ensure biological diversity and richness.  COA acknowledges that NJ’s Artificial Reef Program has met this goal by deploying materials such as ships, barges, concrete/construction material, rock, military tanks, and manufactured reef materials that have created lasting habitats and provided enduring benefits for generations of fishermen and divers, as well as for fish. 


COA Comments on NJDEP’s Permit Application for All NJ Artificial Reef Sites

On January 17, 2005, Clean Ocean Action submitted comments to the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) on the re-issuance of permits for New Jersey’s artificial reef sites, including the 14 existing sites and an additional site off Townsends Inlet in Cape May County. 


In no way should COA’s comments on the permit application for the 15 reef sites be construed as opposing the reef program, nor the construction or deployment of artificial reefs.  COA’s standard language for submitting comments on permit applications includes a recommendation of “approve” or “deny.”  While reviewing NJDEP’s permit application, COA simply found several deficiencies.  While the comments ask ACOE to “deny” the permit, our intention is to recommend that ACOE deny the application as written until the deficiencies are addressed.  Should these deficiencies be sufficiently addressed in the permit application, it would then be reflective of current state and federal policy and law.  Subsequently, COA would support approval of the application.


Specifically, COA found that the permit application failed to include three key federal and state policies and laws:

  1. The list of “materials of opportunity” stated in the application included concrete-ballasted tires, obsolete subway cars, and ocean telecommunication cables.  This list is outdated and does not reflect current New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) policies, such as NJDEP’s Policy Directive 2003-02 or the September 2004 NJ “Draft Artificial Reef Management Plan.”  COA stated that the permit application must reflect current policies that exist regarding currently approved artificial reef materials.
  2. The required Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) was not obtained.  The federal law, Section 7 of the ESA, requires a NOAA/NMFS consultation that applies to all federal agencies and permits.  Therefore, COA requested that the permit application follow federal law by seeking an ESA consultation from the appropriate agencies.
  3. The permit application must include information that the requirements of the NJ Coastal Zone Management Program have been met and are consistent with state policy.  In sum, COA requested that ACOE first receive concurrence from the State (the NJDEP Land Use Regulation Program) that the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife correctly certified that their application is consistent with the CZMA before the permit is issued.  This is a procedural request.  As stated in the application, “[n]o permit will be issued until the State has concurred with the applicant’s certification or has waived its right to do so.” 
    COA is only seeking assurance that the proper procedure is followed.

For a copy of COA’s comments, see link above.  

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