With fundraising from the Beach Haven Charter Association and their Junior Mates program, the Little Egg Inlet Artificial Reef received its first replenishment in 16 years last week. Jim Hutchinson Sr. sent the following report:
“Two years after beginning efforts to replenish the Little Egg Reef off Beach Haven, the captains and mates of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association saw their efforts pay off on Thursday, January 14.
Captain John Lewis, Association president, oversaw three vessels sunk on the reef including a 140-foot barge, a tugboat, and a push boat. The boats were brought from Norfolk, Virginia, where they had been cleaned and prepared and sunk on the Little Egg Reef.
New Jersey’s artificial reefs were originally constructed decades ago as habitat for various species of fish and a place for anglers to fish. Marine life grows on the materials attracting a wide variety of species and resulting fishing opportunities.
Over time the materials placed on the reefs sink in the sand and do not provide the needed structure. As a result, new materials are needed to supplement those original materials. The artificial reefs closest to Long Beach Island have not been enhanced since 2005.
Teenagers in the Association’s Junior Mates Program learned of the reef situation and asked what they could do to improve the situation. This humble beginning sparked a grass roots campaign which snowballed into an intensive campaign by the BHCFA. These efforts attracted the attention of concerned individuals and groups on the local and even national levels.
The group’s original goal to raise $100,000 to begin reef replenishment was reached thanks to the efforts of the mates, local community involvement, and matching funds from the Ann E. Clark Foundation and the Sport Fishing Fund.
Enhancement to the reefs was first expected a year ago, but unexpected delays including the Corona virus and bureaucratic red tape slowed down the time frame. The entire project was done under the watchful eyes of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection which assisted in moving the project along.
Within a short period of time marine, growth will occur on the sunken materials, providing recreational fishing activities for years to come.
Lewis had special words of praise for those assisting in the efforts, especially the Junior Mates participation. “Kids today take a beating for various reasons. Our kids have adopted a ’can-do’ approach and worked their tails off to implement their ideas and dreams.”
Bob Matthews at Belmar Marina reports little winter fishing activity though they still have green and whitelegger crabs in stock. He said the Ocean Explorer had an 11-pound tog recently.
Small craft warnings are up through late Tuesday with west gusts to 25 knots. Tuesday starts with west at 15-20 with gusts to 25 and 2-4-foot seas,