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Artificial reefs expanded in waters off Harwich, Yarmouth to boost fishing opportunities

Coral reef restoration ranger Dosa Mshenga Mchambi worked at an artificial reef structure in the Indian ocean at Shimoni, Kenya on June 13, 2022.Brian Inganga/Associated Press

State officials have significantly bolstered artificial reefs located off the coasts of Harwich and Yarmouth in an effort to “facilitate the enhancement of saltwater recreational fishing opportunities,” the Department of Fish and Game said last week in a statement.

The statement released on Tuesday said the department’s Division of Marine Fisheries has added 2,000 cubic yards of material, including granite and concrete collected from ongoing construction projects, to the existing artificial reefs.

Such reefs, officials said, provide additional habitat for fish and promote marine life, which increases fishery production and provides opportunities for recreational fishing.

The Yarmouth reef, the statement said, was the first of its kind in Massachusetts when it was created in 1978. It’s located over 2 miles south of Bass River, and supports a number of fish species, including black sea bass, butterfish, cunner, knobbed whelk, lesser amberjack, lobster, squid, scup, tautog, and both summer and winter flounder, officials said.

And the Harwich reef, the statement continued, was created in 2016 and is located 2 miles south of the entrance to Saquatucket Harbor.

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“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 state Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card in the statement. “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.”

Card’s words were echoed by state Transportation Secretary and CEO Jamey Tesler.

“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,” Tesler said in the statement. “The creative repurposing of the South Coast Rail Project’s construction materials underscores the importance of addressing climate needs and protecting our national resources.”

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Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon said state officials are pleased by the reef expansions.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is enthusiastic about the enhanced fishing opportunities and the marine research benefits that these artificial reefs continue to provide,” Amidon said in the statement. “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.”


Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.