Back in 2015, retired NC Superior Court Judge Richard J. Parker, a member of the Outer Banks Anglers Club, had an idea he presented to the club about applying for a grant to create a new artificial reef off of Oregon Inlet. The club agreed that this would be a great project and the club formed the Outer Banks Anglers Club Oregon Inlet Artificial Reef Committee to investigate and make application for a new artificial reef. The club submitted the application to the NCDMF Artificial Reef and was awarded $887,000 from the Coastal Recreation Fishing License Fund(CRFL) to create AR-165. AR-165 will be 7 miles south of Oregon Inlet in about 68 feet of water. The GPS bearing will be 35 degrees 41.672’ N, 75 degrees 26.313’. In addition to the CRFL funds,Terry Stewart, local tackle store TW’s Bait and Tackle owner, made a $20,000 contribution to the reef construction
AR-165 will be created when three tugboats and 7,250 tons of recycled concrete pipes are sunk at the reef’s location starting January 2020. The endeavor has been a long time in the making and federal government regulations caused extremely long delays lasting several years. The federal government permitting process was an eye-opening experience that stunned many of the club’s members because of the constant delays and red tape. Back in October 2019, the OBX Anglers Club finally received word that the final federal permit had been issued. The reef should be finally completed in the summer of 2020. OBXAC Reef Committee members Richard Parker, Brian Forbes and Hal Goodman have devoted many hours of work preparing the paperwork and staying in contact with state and federal officials, as well as researching and finding materials from vendors. Our club and our area owes them a great deal of gratitude for their tireless devotion and time invested in this project.
On January 27, 2020, the first boat to be sunk was towed from Norfolk to the site of AR-165. The Crystal Dawn was there to witness the sinking of the boat that will start the AR-165, and she had a crew of the members from the OBXAC that brought the project to fruition. The retired 88 foot American, which was environmentally cleaned back in Norfolk, was towed to the site and filled with seawater to start the boat sinking process. It was a grand time as the boat sank stern first and the bow slowly disappeared into the ocean where it will be a great habitat for fish and other marine life.
Speaking of reef enhancements– Since the Spring of 2019, sections of the Herbert Bonner Bridge have been making their way to enhance the five existing artificial reefs located off of Oregon Inlet. These reefs have had little to no improvements done on them for over a decade. As of January 2020, there have been 29 deployments of new materials to these reefs. The reefs are AR-30, AR-140, AR-145, and AR-160. Fishermen should notice the new structure on their sonar machines when fishing this summer. If you have any questions about the reefs or their locations, go to the NCDMF website and click on the “ Artificial Reef” section for more information.
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