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Artificial reef project advances in Oak Island

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A proposed artificial reef about two and a half miles off the coast of Oak Island is intended to help both fish, and people alike.

Representatives from the State Department of Environment and Natural Resources explained how it works. The project involves sinking manmade cement pipes to the bottom of the ocean that will establish a habitat for fish to make new homes. In turn, it would improve the fishing industry and tourism; a $309 million dollar industry in Brunswick County.

“Its just one more reason for the fishermen and charter boat folks to be able to advertise that we have it – the divers to be able to come here – its just going to be a win-win,” said Oak Island Mayor Johnnie Vareen.

Brunswick County Fishing Club President Jerry Harrison said, “I believe it would improve the fishery in this area. And a lot of people, even tourists, will be coming down.”

The money to fund the project, in part, comes from a surcharge on marine fuel and fishing tackle. The rest of it was raised by the Long Bay Artificial Reef Association. This will be the group’s ninth reef in Brunswick County waters.

“It is important because there are two other close in reef sites that are fully utilized by fisherman during the summer months. Without the sites, the food chain does not get any larger,” said Long Bay Artificial Reef President Andrew Fisher.

Positive public opinion was the next step toward advancing the project. From here, the state will gather information for permitting and make sure the reef won’t interfere with existing fish habitats.

To make sure nothing hazardous to marine life is sunk, the materials to build the reef must pass a number of environmental regulations before going underwater.

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videoOak Island is one step closer to an artificial reef off its shore. Residents had the chance to voice their opinions at a public meeting Monday night. The majority who showed up were for the reef; hoping a place to grow the fish population will also mean economic gain.

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Associated poll

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