- Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
- Department of Fish and Game
- Division of Marine Fisheries
Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Celebrates Construction of Artificial Fishing Reef
Harwich — Today, during an event at the Saquatucket Harbor boat access area, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton, state environment officials and partners from the Town of Harwich and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service celebrated the construction of the Harwich Artificial Fishing Reef. The artificial reef provides enhanced recreational fishing and opportunities for research.
“The new Harwich Artificial Fishing Reef has already attracted many types of marine animals and benefited the Cape’s recreational fishing community and charter fishing businesses,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This innovative, cost-effective project is part of our administration’s commitment to provide opportunities for all citizens to enjoy the natural beauty and splendor of the Commonwealth.”
“This project would not have been possible without the assistance of the Town of Harwich, as well as the funds provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and permit fees from Massachusetts’ recreational saltwater anglers,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “We are thankful we could work together with our local and federal partners to benefit recreational fishermen and our Cape Cod communities.”
The reef was created in March using 1,600 cubic yards of concrete rubble material, including 1000 cubic yards of rubble from the demolition of the old Harwich High School. The project cost $146,950, with $110,250 from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reimbursement and $36,700 from the state recreational saltwater permit fund.
“The artificial reef was created in early spring, and we have already seen that many fish including black sea bass, scup, and tautog, as well as many types of crab are using the habitat extensively,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Matthew Beaton. “As an avid fisherman, I am proud we could use recycled material to provide incredible fishing opportunities to the Commonwealth’s recreational fishermen.”
The 9.9 acre reef is located two miles south of the entrance to Saquatucket Harbor in Harwich, approximately 32 feet deep. Deployed structures extend three to six feet off the bottom and are dispersed in patches to minimize disturbance to the natural bottom. The reef site is designed to enhance fishing by providing structure in an otherwise featureless location.
“We are enthusiastic about the improved fishing this reef provides for recreational salt water anglers on Cape Cod and for the marine research benefits as well,” said Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Commissioner George Peterson. “I appreciate the hard work done by the Division of Marine Fisheries staff and the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Panel.”
The artificial reef also offers research opportunities and benefits. The Division of Marine Fisheries began monitoring the reef site in early April, and site visits for monitoring will occur at least twice annually, with more frequent visits this year. A bottom temperature monitor was deployed to record water temperature and an acoustic receiver was also installed to document the presence of any fish previously fitted with an acoustic tag, such as striped bass, black sea bass, cod, and white sharks.
“From the rubble of the old Harwich High sprung up not only the second-to-none Monomoy Regional High School, but now also this reef system will provide important habitat for schools of fish improving the underwater environment of Nantucket Sound,” said State Representative Sarah Peake (D-Provincetown). “I want to thank all involved who made this happen, including local officials and the Baker-Polito administration.”
DMF administers the recreational salt water fishing fund with the assistance of the Marine Recreational Fisheries Development Panel, a group of private stakeholders that advises DMF on recreational fishing projects and initiatives. Under the state law that established the recreational saltwater fishing permit, one-third of all license fees are dedicated to recreational saltwater fishing infrastructure projects in Massachusetts, ensuring better access to coastal fishing.
The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species, and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water, and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes, and coastal waters.