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    N.J. sinks vessel at new offshore reef [video]

    New Jersey continues to sink large vessels at offshore recreational fishing reefs.

    According to a release from the state Division of Fish and Wildlife, crews deployed the Mt. Sinai, an 87-foot former trawler, at the new Manasquan Inlet Reef on Tuesday.  

    The vessel was sunk in 75-feet of water and will have an active lifespan of more than 80 years, the release states.

    The Manasquan Inlet Reef, situated 1.7 nautical miles southeast of the Manasquan Inlet off Ocean County, occupies nearly one square mile of sea floor and is reserved for recreational anglers (the location is available here). In April, the state received federal approval for the reef along with another in the Delaware Bay.

    Providing a habitat for a variety of marine organisms to grow along with food and habitat for fish and shellfish, the reefs are made of rocks, concrete and steel, and old ships and barges.

    “DEP studies have shown that these materials are colonized quickly with organisms such as algae, barnacles, mussels, sea stars, blue crabs, and sea fans that attract smaller fish which, in turn, attract black sea bass, tautog, summer flounder, scup, lobster and other sought-after species,” according to the release. 

    The state has sunk numerous ships at offshore since last year following a 2015 compromise between the Christie administration and recreational and commercial anglers after a dispute over access to popular reefs. 

    New Jersey officials say recreational fishing generates $1.5 billion in state economic benefits annually and directly employs some 20,000 people.

    The state holds permits for 17 artificial reefs: 13 in federal waters, three in state waters, and another in the Delaware Bay. Funding comes from excise taxes on recreational fishing gear and motor boat fuel. 

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