Builds on Sustained Artificial Reef Expansion and Continues to Bolster Long Island's Economy through Increased Tourism and Recreation
Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced that the deployment of the vessel “Big Time” on the Fire Island Reef as part of the State’s ongoing efforts to expand New York’s network of artificial reefs (click here for video). This sustained effort is developing a stronger, more diverse marine ecosystem and providing shelter for fish and other marine life off New York's shores.
"Deploying the Big Time on the Fire Island Reef is further proof of ongoing efforts to expand the State's network of artificial reefs, which benefit anglers, divers, and marine life while providing a beneficial use for a wide range of materials like this vessel," said Commissioner Seggos. "Now part of the Fire Island Reef, the 55-foot steel Big Time augments local marine habitat and provides a new, big time spot for anglers and divers to visit, increasing opportunities for tourism off the coast of Long Island.”
To date, New York State’s Artificial Reef Program has deployed a total of 4,700 tons of jetty stone, 1,810 cubic yards of Tappan Zee Bridge materials, three New York Canal Corporation steel barges, Erie Canal lift bridges and miter gates and pontoons, New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) steel bridge girders, trusses and pipe, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers research vessel “M/V Hudson” on Fire Island Reef. All materials were deployed under the guidance of the DEC Reef Program to ensure they are safely cleaned of contaminants prior to joining the reef.
In November 2020, the Artificial Reef Program deployed 16, 75-foot steel rail cars donated by Wells Fargo on Fire Island Reef; 59 additional rail cars were deployed on five other reef sites.
Now part of the Fire Island reef, the vessel Big Time is a 55-foot steel luxury Feadshipcruiser Showboat built in 1956. DEC manages the State's 12 artificial reefs, which include two reefs in Long Island Sound, two in the Great South Bay, and nine in the Atlantic Ocean. Since the inaugural deployment in 2018, the Reef Initiative has successfully placed reef materials on all but one of these reef sites.
The benefits of constructing New York's artificial reefs include improving existing habitats to increase local marine biodiversity, stimulating more productive and diverse aquatic ecosystems, and promoting environmental sustainability. Concrete and steel surplus bridge materials have proven to be both stable and durable reef-building material while providing shelter and forage opportunities for finfish and crustaceans that inhabit these underwater structures, such as tautog, fluke, black sea bass, scup, and lobsters.
DEC's Artificial Reef Program is popular with local fishermen and divers and helps to support the local Long Island economy. Additional patch reef creation through material deployments will increase the use and enjoyment of these valuable New York State resources. Anglers and divers who access the artificial reefs support local businesses through the purchase of fuel, bait and tackle, marine equipment, and by using for hire party/charter and dive vessels. New York's marine resources are critical to the state's economy, supporting nearly 350,000 jobs and generating billions of dollars through tourism, fishing and other industries. More than 500,000 anglers in the region will reap the benefits of this new initiative, supporting the region's growing marine economy which accounts for approximately 9.7 percent of Long Island's total GDP.
Anglers in New York State marine waters are required to enroll in the New York Recreational Marine Fishing Registry. The Registry provides important information for setting quotas, size and bag limits, and fishing seasons each year.