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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
4/2/03

Contact: Jack Kaskey
(609) 984-1795

DEP ACQUIRES 250 SUBWAY CARS FOR ARTIFICIAL REEF PROGRAM
The cars will be deposited offshore at five sites to create fish habitat

(03/45) TRENTON -- New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell announced today the state is acquiring 250 obsolete New York subway cars for placement on five offshore artificial reef sites.

New York City Transit will pay all costs associated with cleaning the cars and deploying them at reef sites off all four coastal counties.

"These subway cars will provide habitat for as many as 200 species of fish and invertebrates," Commissioner Campbell said. "Not only will the fish benefit, but so will New Jersey's economy -by creating more fishing and diving opportunities along our shores."

Marine expeditions by anglers and scuba divers already contribute almost $25 million per year to the state's economy, the commissioner noted. Artificial reefs form important nurseries for juvenile fish and have 800 to 1,000 times more biomass than the open ocean, he said.

The DEP will deposit the subway cars in groups of 50 at each of five artificial reef sites - Cape May and Deep Water reefs (off Cape May County), Atlantic City reef (off Atlantic County), Garden State North reef (off Ocean County), and Shark River reef (off Monmouth County).

The cars, known as Redbirds, have transported millions of commuters on New York City Transit's IRT lines for the past 40 years.

The commissioner today also signed a policy directive to revise the state's artificial reef policy, setting clear goals for what the program should accomplish and establishing a robust standard for the durability of future materials to be used on artificial reefs. Currently there is no uniform national standard for the durability of reef materials.

"New Jersey is establishing itself as a national leader in artificial reef policy by developing comprehensive materials standards and fisheries goals," Campbell said. "This will provide the public with assurance that our reefs will not be ocean dumping grounds."

The directive implements an eight-year moratorium on offshore placement of additional subway cars so the DEP can ascertain the durability of the cars and their effect on marine life. The monitoring program will conclude with a report to the commissioner. The report will be drafted by an independent Technical Reef Advisory Committee, to be comprised of reef scientists, fisheries experts, federal and state officials and academia.

During the moratorium, the DEP will continue to deploy traditional, dense artificial reef materials, including ships, barges, cast concrete, dredged rock, structural steel at least a quarter-inch thick, and manufactured reef materials made of concrete or steel.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority's New York City Transit plans to deploy the subway cars at New Jersey's reef site by this autumn.

Since the beginning of 2001, New York City Transit has made available 1,300 subway cars for use in artificial reef programs. New Jersey joins Delaware, South Carolina and Georgia in obtaining cars for their artificial reef programs.

New Jersey previously deployed five Philadelphia SEPTA subway cars at the Sea Girt reef site in 1990.

 

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