Cape Cod Artificial Reef Improvements

BOSTON — In an effort to create important marine ecosystems, the Baker-Polito Administration, through the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), has added more than 2,000 cubic yards of material to existing artificial reefs located off the Towns of Harwich and Yarmouth’s coast. The material includes granite and concrete that have been collected from ongoing construction operations, including the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s (MassDOT) South Coast Rail Project and other projects in Southeastern Massachusetts. The collaborative efforts, which cost approximately $500,000 from DFG’s capital budget, will facilitate the enhancement of saltwater recreational fishing opportunities and provide a unique, and environmentally friendly way to utilize unused construction materials.

“With the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Division of Marine Fisheries, and Department of Transportation working so closely together, the Baker-Polito Administration was able to take a cost effective approach to significantly expand existing artificial reefs, which are critical to the marine environment,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “Importantly, through this artificial reef project, additional environmental impacts were avoided by reusing material from the South Coast Rail Project to further improve marine habitat.”

“MassDOT is pleased to partner with the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs to build upon and further expand artificial reefs that support the continued growth of the Commonwealth’s ecosystem,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler. “The creative repurposing of the South Coast Rail Project’s construction materials underscores the importance of addressing climate needs and protecting our national resources.”

Human-made artificial reefs are intentionally placed underwater structures that provide additional habitat for fish and promote marine life in areas that otherwise generally would have featureless bottoms. The increase in habitat availability increases fishery production and provides opportunities for recreational fishing. In Nantucket Sound, common species found at artificial reefs include black sea bass, tautog, and scup.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is enthusiastic about the enhanced fishing opportunities and the marine research benefits that these artificial reefs continue to provide,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon. “Of course, the reefs attract fish, but they also bring in anglers and recreational divers from Massachusetts and other states, which has a very positive impact on local, regional, and statewide economies.”

The Yarmouth artificial reef is the first of its kind in Massachusetts. It was created by the Town of Yarmouth’s Department of Natural Resources in 1978 with help from DMF. The 127-acre site is located over two miles south of Bass River, and supports more than a dozen species of fish, including black sea bass, butterfish, cunner, knobbed whelk, lesser amberjack, lobster, squid, scup, tautog, and both summer and winter flounder. Furthermore, the Harwich artificial reef is the newest in Massachusetts waters. It was created through a collaborative effort between the Town of Harwich and DMF in 2016. The 10-acre reef is located two miles south of the entrance to Saquatucket Harbor. The original deployment included 1,600 cubic yards of concrete rubble from the former Harwich High School and was funded by revenues from DMF’s recreational saltwater fishing permit funds, with additional financial support from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The material used for the latest reef expansion were transported by barge from the New Bedford Commerce Terminal.

“I want to extend thanks to the Baker-Polito Administration for their continued support of our Cape Cod community,” said State Representative Timothy Whelan (D-Barnstable). “The re-purposing of these construction materials to our existing reefs will certainly increase local fish populations by expanding their habitat.”

For more information regarding artificial reefs in Massachusetts, please visit DMF’s Artificial Reefs webpage. Additionally, for information about the South Coast Rail Project, please visit the MBTA’s and MassDOT’s websites.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth’s natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth’s rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.