The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reef Program and Oregon Inlet Artificial Reef Committee sank Monday the first of three tugboats off the coast of Pea Island.
A tugboat was sunk Monday off the coast of Pea Island, the first of three tugboats to be part of a new artificial reef, a man-made underwater structure built to promote marine life.
The 88-foot, 1951, tugboat, American, is the first addition to AR-165, a new reef site, that is about 7 miles south of the Oregon Inlet sea buoy off Dare County, according to the state Division of Marine Fisheries’ Artificial Reef Program, which partnered with the Oregon Inlet Artificial Reef Committee on the new reef site project.
Following regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers, environmental pollutants were removed from the tugboat before it was sunk. the boat that was retired from service in 2012 has been placed to leave a navigational clearance of about 30 feet.
The division plans to sink the other two tugboats, the 104-foot America and 110-foot Valley Forge, later this winter. In addition to the placement of the three vessels for the project, 7,000 tons of concrete pipe will be deployed in early spring at the reef site
The Oregon Inlet Artificial Reef Committee organized the project that was funded by a Coastal Recreational Fishing License grant and a large donation by TW’s Bait and Tackle of Nags Head.
In North Carolina, artificial reefs serve as critical spawning and foraging habitat for many commercially and recreationally important fish species. The division maintains 68 artificial reefs located in estuarine waters to 38 miles from shore and are situated to be accessible from every maintained inlet in the state.
For more information, about the program or the tugboat reefing, contact Artificial Reef Program Coordinator Jordan Byrum at 252-808-8036 or Jordan.Byrum@ncdenr.gov.