This is part of an intensive program of artificial reef construction and biological monitoring by the Bureau of Marine Fisheries since 1984.
Artificial reefs are constructed by intentionally placing dense materials, such as old ships and barges, concrete and steel demolition debris and dredge rock on the sea floor within designated reef sites.
At present, the division holds permits for 17 artificial reef sites encompassing a total of 25 square miles of sea floor. The reefs are strategically located along the coast so that 1 site is within easy boat range of 12 New Jersey ocean inlets.
Within each reef site, which range in size from one-half to over four square miles, numerous "patch reefs" have been constructed.
A patch reef is a one-half to 5-acre area where one barge load of material has been deployed. In total, over 1200 patch reefs have been constructed on the state's 15 reef sites since the program began.
Reefs are now being used extensively by anglers and divers who catch sea bass, blackfish, porgy and lobster.