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May 31, 2005

Contact: Karen Hershey or Katherine Smith
(609) 984-1795


(05/69) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell is cautioning boaters, anglers and divers to navigate with care around the Axel Carlson Reef Site, located four miles southeast of Manasquan Inlet and two miles offshore of Mantoloking, Ocean County.

In March 2005, construction began on the creation of several undersea rock ridges on the site as part of New Jersey's artificial reef program. These ridges will provide habitat for fish and marine life, and will enhance fishing and diving opportunities in the area.

"With warmer weather approaching, we will see more boaters, anglers, and divers travelling through this high traffic area," said Commissioner Campbell. "For safety reasons, all boats must give way to tugs towing barges of rock to the site and all anchored vessels in the line of transit should immediately retrieve anchor and clear the area. Commercial fishermen should not set fixed gear, such as lobster or fish pots on the reef site during rock deployments because the gear could be damaged."

The project is a partnership between DEP's Division of Fish and Wildlife, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It will continue throughout 2005 and much of 2006.

During construction, tugs will be pulling large barges of granite bedrock dredged from New York Harbor to the Axel Carlson Reef Site and depositing the rock at predetermined locations. Work on the site will be continuous so boaters must constantly be aware of the reduced maneuverability of these tugs and allow them the right-of-way.

Adding rock to the ocean floor provides much needed hard-structure habitat for fish, lobster and other marine life. The rocky ridges will become attachment surfaces for invertebrate marine life, such as mussels, barnacles, sponges and anemones, and will provide hiding places for bottom-dwelling species like sea bass, blackfish, crab and lobster. The granite rock ridges will create productive fishing grounds for centuries to come.

The Axel Carlson Reef project is just one element of Acting Governor Richard J. Codey's Coast 2005 initiative, which includes a variety of programs designed to enhance coastal water quality and improve coastal ecosystems. Aside from the reef building program, the initiative includes new standards for maintenance and inspection of sewer systems to help prevent spills from polluting New Jersey's waters; $30 million in grant funding to assist municipalities in developing storm water management plans; and strengthening of coastal zone restrictions for offshore oil and gas development.

The Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) coordinates of the Axel Carlson Reef Site corners are as follows:

NE 4003.70 7358.60
NW 4004.15 7359.75
SE 3959.80 7359.45
SW 4000.25 7400.65

Anglers and divers can obtain a chart of the rock deployment areas by sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope to:

Rock Chart
New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife
P.O. Box 418
Port Republic, NJ 08241

For more information on New Jersey's artificial reef program visit the DEP web site at
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