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Artificial Reefs

Fishing and Diving on New York's Artificial Reefs

New York State artificial reefs were developed to increase fisheries habitat. They also provide marine fish and other organisms additional opportunities for shelter and foraging and may increase productivity in the areas where they are are placed. Anglers visit artificial reef sites to benefit from the increased fishing opportunities they provide. Divers also visit our reefs for nature observation, photography, and catching fish and lobsters. You may find fish, crustaceans, molluscs, sponges and even temperate corals on New York artificial reefs.

NYSDEC Adding material to Rockaway Reef 1NYSDEC adding material to Rockaway Reef 2.
NYSDEC adding material to Rockaway Reef.

Creating New Habitat

Artificial reefs are built out of hard, durable structures such as rock, concrete, and steel, usually in the form of surplus or scrap materials (e.g. vessels, dredge rock, and military vehicles, etc.). All harmful substances are removed from the material before it is deployed on the reef sites.

Marine Life Moves In

As quickly as the material settles on the sea floor, the reef structure begins to fill with marine life. Fish like blackfish, black sea bass, scup, fluke, hake, and cod move in to check out the new structure. Lobsters and crabs take up residence, and encrusting organisms like barnacles, sponges, anemones, corals ,and mussels cling to and cover the material. Over time, the structure teems with sea life, creating a habitat very similar to a natural reef.

Artificial Reef Sites

There are 12 artificial reef sites in New York State that are managed by the DEC Marine Artificial Reef Program. A map, site coordinates and other details for the reef locations, GPS coordinates, and the materials deployed on each reef site are available for you to use to plan your trip to a New York State reef site.

Angler and Diver Observations

blackfish on an artificial reef
Blackfish residing on the Hempstead Reef,
which is now encrusted with organisms
like mussels, sponges, and anemones.
Photo by Christopher LaPorta

While visiting New York's artificial reefs, you will have the opportunity to observe a variety of marine organisms and environmental conditions. Please consider sharing what you see while diving or fishing with the DEC reef monitoring program. By contributing to the DEC's volunteer reef diver program or the volunteer reef angler program you can assist in this effort. The information you share will help us learn more about the marine populations found on our artificial reefs and provide feedback on how to improve your experience on our reefs.

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    205 North Belle Mead Road, Suite 1
    East Setauket, New York 11733
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