Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the intentional scuttling 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.
This effort is designed to develope a stronger, more diverse marine ecosystem and provide shelter for fish and other marine life off New York’s shores.
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 (watch video of the scuttling here.) 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. 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 considered a critical part of 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. More information on the Registry can be found on the DEC website or by contacting DEC’s Marine Fishing Access Unit at (631) 444-0438.
Reef construction is part of the NY is Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. For more information about DEC’s Artificial Reef Program visit DEC’s website.
Photo of “Big Time” vessel added to Fire Island Artificial Reef courtesy DEC.