Home - What We Are & Why > Oregon Inlet Artificial Reef Committee > 4-3-18, The Virginian Pilot (On-Line), New Artificial Reef to be Built Near Outer Banks Expected to Attract Big Game Fish

4-3-18, The Virginian Pilot (On-Line), New Artificial Reef to be Built Near Outer Banks Expected to Attract Big Game Fish

By Jeff Hampton
Apr 3, 2018


A local fishing group has received an $882,000 state grant to build a new artificial reef that is expected to attract game fish and the anglers who spend money to catch them, including thousands of Virginians.


Fishing many miles off the Outer Banks coast is renowned for large tuna and other trophy species. Meanwhile, artificial reefs have helped create a world-class fishing reputation near the shore in southeastern North Carolina. A local angling group seeks to create a similar prominence close to the Outer Banks shore. 


“We’re trying to make inshore fishing equal to what they get offshore,” said Dick Parker, chairman of the artificial reef committee for the Outer Banks Anglers Club. 


The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries awarded the two-year grant to the anglers club, using money from the sale of coastal recreational fishing licenses, according to club spokesman Tony Lombardi. “This is really going to enhance our fishing,” he said. 


The artificial reef, named AR-165, will be constructed 8 miles south of the Oregon Inlet by sinking a decommissioned ship more than 100 feet long with an added 2,000 tons of assorted pieces of concrete pipe up to 8 feet long and more than 6 feet in diameter. The ship will be towed and sunk at the site. 


Another 6,000 tons of concrete and possibly another old ship will go into the site during the second year of the grant, Lombardi said. Concrete from the demolition of the old Bonner Bridge will go toward beefing up the existing four reefs in the area and will not be used at the new reef, he said. 


The club expects to get state and federal permits soon, he said. 


The sale of coastal recreational fishing licenses generates about $5 million annually in North Carolina. More than 76,000 coastal fishing licenses were sold in Dare County last year, generating about $1 million in revenue, according to state and county documents. The number of licenses sold in Dare ranks second in North Carolina behind Wake County and tops all coastal counties.

About 55,000 Virginians a year buy North Carolina coastal fishing licenses.


The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries manages 62 artificial reefs – 42 in the ocean and 20 in estuaries such as the Pamlico Sound. Reefs include oyster sanctuaries. 


Much of coastal and estuarine sea floor is flat, according to the agency’s website. Materials placed on the sea floor soon become colonized by marine organisms, such as barnacles, flexible corals, sponges, shellfish and various plants or seaweeds. The tiny marine life attracts small bait fish that provide food for larger predatory fish. 


Only four artificial reefs lie offshore from the Outer Banks near the Oregon Inlet. No new material has been added to the four in 10 years, Parker said. Over time, reefs tend to sink and deteriorate and become less effective, he said. The new reef and the additions to the existing reefs will make a big difference, he said.


“This means better opportunities to catch more fish,” he said. 


TW’s Bait & Tackle, Manteo Marine and Southern Bank together have donated $25,000 to the anglers club toward the new reef and future reef construction, Lombardi said. More donations are needed and can be made through the website of the Outer Banks Anglers Club. 


“We’ve got bigger plans,” he said