Contacts: Mark Rousseau, Bob Glenn, Kelly Whitmore

Renewable fisheries resources are important to the economy and culture of coastal communities. Total effort in saltwater recreational fishing has grown immensely in Massachusetts' waters over the past decade. Artificial reefs serve as a useful tools in fisheries and habitat management and can generate significant economic benefits to the state.

Artificial reef sites in the coastal and inland waters of the United States have been used to increase access to marine resources for over fifty years. In Massachusetts, artificial reefs have been deployed to provide additional fisheries habitat, and are used as mitigation for the loss of existing habitat due to coastal alterations. MarineFisheries maintains an artificial reef program to research questions related to reef productivity and habitat value, and develop best management practices for reef construction and monitoring.  In order to plan for reefs in an integrated manner, MarineFisheries is also working on a statewide site selection model to identify locations in the state where placing new reefs will be less likely to conflict with existing uses and resources.

Map of Massachusetts Artificial Reef Locations
Click on the links provided below to learn more about all of Massachusetts’ permitted artificial reef sites.


Cunner swimming through Brewster reef
Cunner swimming through Brewster reef
Head boat fishing on the Yarmouth reef
Head boat fishing on the Yarmouth reef

An Artificial Reef is defined as follows for Massachusetts' waters:
An area within the marine waters of the Commonwealth in which approved structures have intentionally been placed or constructed for the purpose of enhancing benthic relief. Such structures may be designed to provide opportunities for recreational and commercial fishing, aid in the management or enrichment of fishery resources, or to achieve a combination of these objectives.

Goals and Objectives of Massachusetts Artificial Reef Program
MarineFisheries Artificial Reef Program emphasizes a responsible, consistent, and long-term approach to the development and management of artificial reefs. This approach utilizes technical assistance, science, planning, best management practices, and routine monitoring to identify techniques for artificial habitat development that will augment commercial and recreational fishing, and provide tools for long-term fisheries research and management; while ensuring such development does not adversely affect existing fisheries. To manage the Massachusetts Artificial Reef Program, MarineFisheries developed the Massachusetts Marine Artificial Reef Plan pdf format of artificial_reef_policy.pdf
file size 4MB to direct artificial reef development efforts. The plan addresses the administration of the Massachusetts Artificial Reef Program, the planning and development of new artificial reefs, monitoring and maintenance of reefs, and the management and use of artificial reef sites in accordance with established interstate and national standards to provide the greatest benefit to marine resources while minimizing user group conflicts.

Information about permitted Artificial Reef Sites in Massachusetts
Boston Harbor, Brewster Island (HubLine)
Boston Harbor, Sculpin Ledge

Other Pertinent Links
Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC)
Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission (GSMFC)
Guidelines for Marine Artificial Reef Materials, Second Edition