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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I did not want to hijak a great thread on buying concrete for articial reefs, but I asked what to me is an important question on that thread to which I hope an answer exists, to I'll restate it here.

I think all of the TF'r's efforts in buying this reef material is great and I applaud you for it. However, you, I, private organizations and the government have a very limited amount of money to help the Bay and our fisheries. Given that, are we confident that articial reefs are the best place to spend our money? What is the record on these concrete reefs in promoting the expansion of oysters? Is concrete a good material for oyster growth?

Does any evidence exist that these reefs actually increase the size and/or health of any fish population in the Bay, or do they just concentrate existing populations and thereby make them easier for us to catch?

I don't know the answer to these questions, but would like to know before spending money on it.

Until then, a program that appears to me to provide more bang for the buck is the Cheapeake Bay Trust's living shoreline grant program, or any program that buys and preserves what little forested land remains in the watershed (I'm not quite as convinced about the utlility in preserving active farmland..but that's another topic). Aside from the larger issue of sewage treatment, the clearing and hardening of shorlines strikes me as the most alarming (and increasing) problem facing our fisheries and degrading our water quality.

Again, I look forward to your responses.

P.S. - this might be more appropriate for the conservation board, but I wanted to first put this on the same board as the reef thread
 

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Great point about the reefs just attracting exisitng fish and making them easier to catch. Yeah donations to preserve woodlands and wetlands makes more sense in the long run. Also, what I am thinking is that as soon as these reefs become productive, they might then be covered with crab pots, nets etc.
 

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I have another question about these reefs. I'm inclined to support them as well, but I wonder if the material is tested to be environmentally safe before it is dumped? I'm certainly no expert, but I have a hard time understanding how petroleum distilates such as asphalt, etc. can be safe. I think they're still figuring out how to clean up the mess they made with tire reefs in Florida. -Shawn
 

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I don't know the answers to your question, but I don't think concrete does a thing for Oysters. From when I can remember, procelain works well, but not concrete.

BTW, I've always wondered about the impact of artificial reefs to fish. I know fish move into them, but does it act as a breeding ground or does it act as bait for fisherman? I do know that when I fish where they dropped some bridge material, all I do is lose lures from snags.

- Dae
 

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Are you kidding?

Here's a quote from a post article...

"It's a perfect habitat for all these creatures," said Marty Gary, a fisheries ecologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. "The oysters love concrete, and the fish will want to stay around because the current will sweep the food right over them."

Before the reef was installed, the bottom of the bay at Point No Point was soft sand with no solid surfaces to which fouling organisms could attach themselves. Such creatures live most of their adult lives latched on to some sort of underwater surface or structure, and they create an attraction for fish. With such organisms absent from Point No Point, fish passing through the waters there found nothing to make them stop, Gary said.

"What we've created is essentially an oasis in the desert," he said.

I don't get it? The more places fish and other organisms have to live.... the more there are going to be. Furthermore... the structure won't be flat...like the fossil oyster that oyster have been planted on for years... and therefore won't be silted over..
Take a look at reefball.org and tell me if you think they work...
 

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I'm not a scientist and I don't even play one on TV, but I ask a similar question of marine biologists in Florida, New Jersey and Delaware before I wrote about the subject. And Capt. Monty Hawkins in Ocean City, a real force on coastal reef building, has done extensive research.
There's a lot of big words I don't understand, but it seems that a Delaware study shows well-placed artificial reefs result in an increase of 50 to 100 percent in invertebrate biomass.
Both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission have guidelines on what constitutes acceptable materials both from habitat and environmental standpoints.
Further, ASMFC has an Artificial Reef Technical Committee that monitors construction efforts and serves as a clearing house for new techniques.
When I asked a Wilson Bridge engineer about the "cleanliness" of the construction material, he said the construction rubble met the standards set forth by the Army Corps and MDE. In that respect, it is no different than the barges, ships and subway cars sunk off the Atlantic coast.
Biologists admit that in the early stages of reef building, some structure was not placed in the best possible site. But, they say, the science of reef building and the anecdotal evidence gathered by recreational anglers and charter captains has refined the siting procedure.
The state has drafted a 37-page reef management plan that will be adopted after a public comment period, which requires a performance monitoring component and a committee to oversee the work.
I couldn't get all that into the paper, and I'm sorry for such a long response, but that's what I've learned so far.
Hope it helps.
Candy
 

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I am all for reefs. Structure is always a fish holder but until something is done that allows ell grass to come back its like pissing in the wind. Although we have the best rock fishery in my lifetime many other species are on the decline, like oysters, crabs, atlantic puffers, sand sharks, soft shell clams, cobia, manhaden. All were regular customers in my childhood.
 

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The waterman do not like large concrete for oysters because it is not compatible with their harvest gear which is suited for smaller loose particles. IE: Tongs

Is concrete OK for fish ? Look at the 18 miles of the CBBT, that should answer that question.

The more structure (trees, rock, concrete, grass, oysters) the more biomass, the more fish. Fish a farm pond with no structure and one with shoreline growth, down trees, rock, docks and beaver dams. You'll the see difference in about 10 casts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks very much for all of this info!!...very helful.
 

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Dae: Actually if you look at the reef management plan they point out that oyster spat adheres better to concrete than to natural oyster shell...
 

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I think they are a good thing, and here's the rationale I have in saying that.

After talking with a number of people over the years, I think the kicker on these reefs is the 3-D configuration. In the days before the reefs were cultivated flat, the natural bay reefs had peaks and valleys. This increased the surface area of the reef structure, which was covered with critters and the all-important oysters.

When a storm event came through, the reefs slowed the current a bit and provided troughs into which the sediment could fall. The sediment flows were probably less due to the de-forestation etc (your programs are important too, Goose!)

Nonetheless, this sediment fell into the troughs , rather than smothering the oysters who were happily filtering out the remaining nutrient load. Over time the worms and critters (benthics?) were able to reduce the concentrated sediment in the troughs.

And the reef got healthier and higher. And the fishes followed and filled the abundant niche that was there.

My shoreline has a few old cinderblocks lying about - and they are always holding abundant life. Critters that may not even exist if not for the structure.

So, in my mind, if we're throwing dollars around, we should throw some at the shoreline, the sewage treatment, re-forestation and the reefs - they all play a part.
 

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At one time, the Bay had oyster "reefs" that stuck out of the water. These "rocks" gave the Striped Bass, which hung around them the local name "rockfish". These reefs have all been flattened out. These artifical reefs can only be good for sponges, bryozoans, oysters, worms, crabs and so forth that create a healthier bay. One or two large checks from private foundations have been written to cover over $100,000 worth of concrete and a bunch of money has been collected by the "Buy-a-ton" program. To get more information go to the CCA-Md website, http://www.ccamd.org and click on MARI on the left side of the page.
 

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At one time, the Bay had oyster "reefs" that stuck out of the water. These "rocks" gave the Striped Bass, which hung around them the local name "rockfish". These reefs have all been flattened out. These artifical reefs can only be good for sponges, bryozoans, oysters, worms, crabs and so forth that create a healthier bay. One or two large checks from private foundations have been written to cover over $100,000 worth of concrete and a bunch of money has been collected by the "Buy-a-ton" program. To get more information go to the CCA-Md website, http://www.ccamd.org and click on MARI on the left side of the page.
Oh yeah, and companies like BP, Shell Oil, and Honeywell stepped up to the plate as well...MARI is off to a good start...
 

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Okay, I guess as long as there is research done by someone with an interest in preserving the Bay, then it's probably for the overall good. I have some doubt that only concrete is going in, or that the years of highway sludge, etc. are removed. But hopefully someone monitors.
 

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Okay, I guess as long as there is research done by someone with an interest in preserving the Bay, then it's probably for the overall good. I have some doubt that only concrete is going in, or that the years of highway sludge, etc. are removed. But hopefully someone monitors.
All those concerns have to be addressed before they shove anything over the side...There's no small number of hoops to jump through to make MARI work which is why Marty Gary and the guys at DNR really deserve a lot of credit for making this all come off as seemlessly as it has.
 

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I skimmed an article in the CCA mag that came yesterday and it had an article on what they're doing in the Carolinas with an oyster shell recycling program and how it's gaining a lot of momentum - I believe that there were tax credits given to resturants/waterman that drop their used shells at a collection site for "recycling" back into the reefs/beds to help stimulate life and regeneration. Anything like that going on around here? I'll reread the article to make sure I've summarized it correctly and try to find a link too.....
 
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