I am going to make my comments brief here as I know I will become upset if I delve any further into this story written by Mark Harrington in Newsday the previous day:
'Commercial fishermen, advocates oppose Cuomo's artificial reef expansion plan'
https://www.newsday.com/business/cuomo- ... 1.50148125
I was not going to make a public post about this until I saw an excellent short synopsis and charts posted by Chris Spies. I did call Chris up to ask him for permission to post his thoughts and charts that he took the time to research and then made from the information on the website that anyone can obtain from the Northeast Data Portal when one toggles through the various inputs (one example here and you can click on the link and doing your own fact finding ( Copy & Paste the link in your browser):
https://www.northeastoceandata.org/data ... l-activity
Sadly it does appear that the individual quoted in the article did not do her "due diligence" when speaking to Mark H. and present him any data on impact to fishing activities or economic loss due to either the expansion or creation of ARs off the Long Island shoreline.
Strangely enough this very morning, I was contacted by someone (A NYS MRAC advisor) who spoke with Mark H. from Newsday on a number of fishery issues in particular, 1) wondering about changes to recreational sector, 2) CARES ACT money, 3) Offshore Wind Developments, and 4) this story on opposition to the NYS Artificial Reef expansion.
I can pass along to the reader that I spent a good amount of time in working the public comments, both written, public and to Chris L., the NYS AR coordinator on issues ranging from material deployment, expansion, financial support and creation of new AR reefs off of Fire Island, Moriches and Shinnecock.
I believe I do have a sense of both sides on the issues in artificial reef creation or expansion, and envy the unending and tireless work done by Captain Monty Hawkins of the MORNING STAR - Maryland, and the continued work done by the Garden State AR program. In fact, here I was asked to not only speak before Tony D. and Rich Seagraves (1 of only 2 people who showed up for that meeting!) but entered a public comment for the SMZ issue and I repeatedly stressed cooperative support between the commercial, recreational fishing and diving community in shared activities upon the artificial reefs that lay within and just outside New Jersey waters.
Needless to say when I read comments by an individual who did not show up for the 2020 NYS Artificial Reef meeting, nor asked for a comment from me before what was written in the Newsday article, the word 'livid' does not sum up how I felt in trying as best to find the proverbial 'middle ground' in improving fishing and diving opportunities for the people who live not only in the once Empire State, but for those vessels from other states who do fish and dive within the Marine & Coastal District waters.
Aren't we supposed to think 'big tent' on these issues amongst various groups?
There were a number of questionable "at best" statements, but there was the 16 Fathom Reef in the article, and here Chris Spies provides the information directly from the latest time series provided upon the Northeast Data Portal. Think about this particular paragraph here and the word "catastrophic," to wit:
"Another state reef called Sixteen Fathom, a newly created reef, is a "productive federal fishing ground" for the entire mid-Atlantic fleet, McClintock wrote in comments to the state. Brady, in correspondence to the DEC, said creation of this reef would be "catastrophic" for trawlers and surf clam boats, among others. It would "not only destroy the productive ocean bottom" but also limit traditional grounds where trawlers tow their nets, leading to the loss of potentially millions of pounds of fish each year, she said."
When I made a public written comment in February of 2020, I summed it up with these thoughts, to wit:
"There is also a major environmental benefit which all people should support as artificial reef enhancement aides in habitat and eco-system repair and restoration in nearshore areas negatively impacted and damaged from fishing activities, pollution or natural storm damage. The positive impact of artificial reefs to the marine environment eventually creates and results in the bio-diverse stability of localized nearshore waters."
Also, I like to point out the exact language with the NYS AR proposal on the expansion and creation of new artificial reefs being coordinated by the NYS DEC, to wit:
"- By increasing the artificial reef footprint acreage from 3400 acres to a proposed 6,812 acres (pg. 69 NYSDEC Artificial Reef SGEI doc.), impacts may disrupt less than 1 percent of available NYS Marine and Coastal District waters as measured in acres. An approximate scaling example in area which would be impacted would be in using the proposed Long Island Sound 50 acre artificial reef footprint, which would be an equivalent to 0.06 square nautical miles. At this time there has been no reported documented interruption of commercial fishing activities due to the creation or expansion of artificial reef building in the Mid-Atlantic region."
There are a number of other examples I can bring up, but I wish to make everyone aware that we have an issue that not only has the support of the recreational fishing and diving community, but also NYS FFL hand gear fishermen who do wish to have greater access to artificial reef expansion, as well as the creation of just two small AR footprints in the EEZ.
Please take a moment to read Chris Spies explanation, and he does deserve the credit for bringing this issue to everyone's attention.
Commercial fishermen are trying to thwart Cuomo's and the NYSDEC reef expansion program. Most notably IMO, the proposed NEW 16-Fathom reef planned to go between Jones and Fire Island Inlets.
Bonnie Brady, Exec Dir. of the LI Commercial Fishing Association, is quoted in the article as saying the creation of this new reef will be catastrophic for trawlers and surf clam boats. She said it would destroy productive ocean bottom (a funny argument to hear coming from a trawl fishing advocate) and limit where trawlers can go.
I'm not often a proponent of our NYSDEC Marine Unit, but it does appear that they did their homework on this, unlike Ms. Brady. NYSDEC Commissioner Seggos stated impacts to the commercial fishing industry were closely reviewed and determined to be limited and not significant.
According to the publicly available data from the Northeast Ocean Data portal,
* There is NO surf clamming activity in the proposed 16-Fthm Reef location.
* There is also very limited trawling activity.
*Squid fishing being the most prevalent, however that is relatively light in comparison to the area to the fishing activity to the ESE, Mudhole area to the SW and more inshore of the proposed reef location.
The screenshots below are from the NEOD Portal map:
1) OPEN PAGE - CLICK ON BASE MAPS & CLICK 'CHARTS' TO GET A NOAA MAP
2) GO DOWN TO - COMMERCIAL FISHING ACTIVITY
3) CHECK - VESSEL ACTIVITY
4) CLICK ON ANY OF THE FISHING ACTIVITY INPUTS YOU ARE INTERESTED IN YOUR DATA SEARCH
Finally, I like to point out that all NYS DEC AR deployments are displayed on an interactive map.
https://www.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewe ... 458417934d
Notice how tight the clustering of various scuttled vessels, bridge and roadway debris as well as the newly deposited train cars are within the AR zone footprint.
NOTE: I have added this image since the image Chris S. took may not provide the clarity needed to see this particular slide: