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N.Y. Commercial Fishermen Oppose Cuomo’s Reef Plans

Fishing boat
Courtesy of Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is facing opposition from commercial fishermen for his plan to double the size of artificial reefs in Long Island waters.

The reef project has been made by dropping more than 1,093 tons of cleaned waste material and construction debris into the water. Environmentalists and sport fishermen support the reef because it helps build a habitat for marine life.

However, commercial fishermen say the reef could impede their businesses.

The Suffolk County Legislature’s Marine Industry Revitalization Advisory Council is one group that objects to the reef expansion. Fishermen on the council say combined with the offshore wind farms, the area that can support commercial fishing is shrinking.

Fishermen also claim that they would be blamed for illegal dumping near the artificial reef and are concerned they would be fined. Debris used for the reef is inspected for toxins before being submerged.

Some fishing equipment, such as trawl nets, would also not be able to be used because it could damage the reef.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation told Newsday that “any impact on commercial fishing will not be significant.”

The reefs are being created using debris from the old Tappan Zee Bridge, Good-Humor trucks, and decommissioned rail cars.

Once the debris settles to the sea floor, larger fish, such as blackfish, black sea bass, cod and summer flounder, move in to inhabit the new structures. The reef becomes encrusted in barnacles, sponges, anemones, corals, and mussels that cling to and cover the material.