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NOAA Designates 13 Artificial Reef Sites as Special Management Zones

July 06, 2018

Establishes year-round special management zones for 13 New Jersey artificial reefs.

NOAA Fisheries has published a final rule to designate 13 New Jersey artificial reef sites as special management zones (SMZ). This action:

  • Establishes year-round SMZs for 13 New Jersey artificial reefs; and
  • Allows only handline, rod and reel, or spear fishing (including the taking of fish by hand) in these areas. All other gears will be prohibited beginning on August 8, 2018.

This action will be effective on August 8, 2018. Vessels must remove all other gear types (e.g., pot/trap gear) from these reef sites prior to this date.

See maps of the Special Management Zones.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is NOAA Fisheries designating these areas as SMZs?

Due to complaints about gear conflicts between rod and reel and pot/trap gear on these reef sites, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discontinued its funding of the New Jersey Reef Program through the Sportfish Restoration Program. As a result, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council requested this action to restore this funding and minimize gear conflicts on these reefs.

Can I continue fishing on these SMZs with rod and reel gear?

Yes. This action allows vessels to continue to fish on these reefs with rod and reel gear.

Are all commercial gear banned from these areas?

No. Handline, rod and reel, or spearfishing are allowed. If you have the proper State and Federal permits, you can continue to fish commercially using one of these gear types. However, all other fixed and mobile gears are banned, including pots/traps, and pelagic longline. 

How far away from the SMZs do I have to move my pots/traps?

Prohibited gear must be removed from within the boundaries of each SMZ. There are no buffer zones associated with these SMZs, so pot/trap fishing can continue immediately adjacent to the SMZs. See boundaries in the attached chart and coordinates.

Last updated by Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office on November 23, 2018