Spring weather is slowly arriving in Southern Ocean County, and the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are preparing for the current fishing season. At the same time these captains and the members of their famed Junior Mates Program have embarked on an ambitious goal.
This group of teenagers and seasoned captains have taken it upon their shoulders to spearhead a campaign to refresh the local artificial fishing reefs. The two closest reefs to Little Egg Inlet are the Little Egg and Garden State South reefs.
In the 1990â€™s the state of New Jersey under the direction of state biologist William Figley built a series of reefs off the coast designed to improve fish habitat. With funding from sport fishing groups and enthusiasts, objects were placed on the sand bottom. These objects included bridge debris, old boat, tanks, specially made concrete igloos, and other materials.
All materials used to form the reefs had to be thoroughly cleaned, inspected, and transported to the reef sites. Over the years these reef materials began to sink into the sand, and in many locations are barely above the ocean floor. It has become obvious that these reefs need to be refreshed with new materials to become effective again as good marine habitat.
William Figley has retired from his state position but remains very interested in the reefs both as their original architect and as an avid angler himself. Ne has agreed to served as the chairman of the Junior Mate Reef Project.
The BHCFA has been in touch with the state and been given approval to go ahead with their efforts. Their main goal right is to raise about $100,000 to fund the purchase of materials and have the cleaned materials placed on the reef sites.
Captain John Lewis is president of the BHCFA and will be presenting the groupâ€™s plan along with Figley at a meeting of the Beach Haven Borough Council on Monday, May 13, at 7pm. The other Long Beach Island mayors have been invited to the meeting along with any others interested in hearing more about the project.
Fund raising efforts have already begun including some sizeable donations from area residents, and a Go Fun Me page has been established. Additional information on the reef project can be obtained by going to the website www.BHCFA.org and clicking on the icon for the reef project.