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Artificial Reefs Artificial Reefs

Scuba Diver among tires in OceanArtificial reefs can create valuable habitat for fish and other aquatic wildlife.  These reefs are created by sinking objects ranging from old tires to decommisioned ships in offshore waters.  The role of the EPA is to assure that only acceptable material is used as artificial reef material and that the placement of these materials on the ocean floor will not violate federal laws or regulations that protect the environment.  EPA works with federal (i.e.  U.S. EPA Wetlands Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Exit EPA disclaimer U.S. Coast Guard) Exit EPA disclaimer and local government agencies (i.e. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Exit EPA disclaimer and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation) Exit EPA disclaimer to address the delivery, placement, ownership and liability of the proposed artificial reef materials. (Photo courtesy of NOAA)

It is the responsibility of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to regulate the construction and maintenance of fishing reefs and fishing attractors in waters of the United States including the waters that overlay the outer continental shelf.   Permits for such structures are required from USACE pursuant to Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 and/or Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA).  Under Clean Water Act (CWA) 404, EPA may prohibit, restrict, or withdraw use of a site for the discharge of dredged or fill material which would have unacceptable effects on fish, wildlife, shellfish, recreation, or municipal water supplies. 

The states of New York and New Jersey each have valid USACE permits for artificial reefs in the Atlantic Ocean.  EPA is consulted for all requests of permits, for artificial reefs, from USACE and confirms authorization of sites to receive certain materials for the purpose of enhancing the aquatic environment.  

Several informative publications concerning coastal artificial reef planning and guidelines for marine artificial reef materials may be found at Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission Exit EPA disclaimer , under Publications and Sport Fish Restoration. 

 

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