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North Carolina Department of Environment Quality

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Marine Fisheries - Reef Materials

Marine Fisheries

Reef material with fish

Reef Materials

8-point rule

 
 

Artificial reef materials are selected based on four primary considerations: function, compatibility, durability and stability. Materials used must meet their intended function by supporting diverse and abundant biological communities. Selected materials must also be compatible with the aquatic environment in which they are placed. This means they must not pose environmental risks. Also, unstable materials, or those prone to movement, and non-durable, or easily degraded, materials must be precluded from use.

Artificial reef materials must also meet several state, regional and federal guidelines, including guidelines set by the North Carolina Artificial Reef Master Plan, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission guidelines for Marine Artificial Reef Materials, the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs, and the 2007 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service National Artificial Reef Plan.

Types of Artificial Reef Materials

Shark on NC reef shipwreck Vessels
Vessels are not only allowed to enhance ocean reefs, but have proven to function as safe habitat offering trophic support for fishes and invertebrate communities. Vessels also provide a place for scuba divers to explore and a dynamic habitat for fishermen to fish.
Pipe
Different sizes and assortments of damaged or dug up pipe are used as artificial reef structure. It stacks easily to provide profile, while the hollow cavities provide surface area where fishes can hide.
concrete pipe
concrete casings Concrete Castings
Concrete castings include culverts, junction boxes and many other types of prefabricated concrete structure. Usually, this material has a slight defect such as a crack or chip that makes them unsalable by the manufacturer. Concrete castings are very effective reef material due to their hollow cavities and surface area which provide many nooks and crannies where fishes can hide.
Reef Balls©
A Reef Ball is a designed habitat that resembles a small igloo with many holes leading into a hollow interior cavity. Reef Balls have openings where fishes can evade predators. They also have surface area for invertebrates to attach.
reef ball
demolition concrete Demolition Concrete
The Artificial Reef Program obtains concrete from the demolition of bridges, roadways piers and through other avenues. This material can vary in size from boulder-sized pieces to those longer than 15 feet. The concrete is deployed from barges and is pushed off into the water piece-by-piece with heavy machinery, such as a front-end loader. Multiple loads can be dropped on top of each other to provide higher vertical relief from the bottom. Concrete is great habitat for fishes and invertebrates.
Natural Materials
Most coastal states, including North Carolina, use natural materials to replenish various types of habitat with a particular focus on shell bottom. Natural materials include different approved mineral rocks such as limestone marl, granite, and basalt.
coral marl etc
Opportunistic Materials
Fishermen and divers will find materials such as military aircraft and train boxcars on North Carolina’s artificial reefs. These materials are experimental and opportunistic in nature. This means, these types of materials are rarely available, but when they are available, the Artificial Reef Program takes advantage of them as a way to enhance the reefs at a low cost. All materials that go on a reef site are cleaned and evaluated for function, compatibility, stability and durability before deployment.
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N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries • 3441 Arendell Street • Morehead City, NC 28557 • 252-726-7021 or 800-682-2632

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