9-26-17 Status Report

On August 1st, 2017, the Oregon Inlet Artificial Reef Committee received a notification letter from Braxton C. Davis, Director of the NC Division of Marine Fisheries that our organization had been approved for funding from the Coastal Recreational Fishing License fund in the amount of $371,000. We were one of nineteen proposals selected for funding.

We were further advised that funding for subsequent years of multi-year projects will be contingent upon the completion of satisfactory project performance reports as required by the contract. Our second year proposal seeks additional funding in the amount of $511,000.

On September 19th, in my capacity as Chairman of the Oregon Inlet Artificial Reef Committee, I executed an Amended Partnership Agreement with the NC Division of Marine Fisheries whereby we agreed to partner with each other on a CRFL grant-funded project to enhance a new reef site [AR-165] off Dare County, NC. The proposed project will increase complex habitat, benefiting many marine species and improving angler access to quality fishing opportunities. The partnership is contingent on a number of conditions set forth in the agreement.

 One of those conditions provides that no CRFL funds shall be expended until all applicable permits are obtained by the Division of Marine Fisheries and the partner is notified in writing. In conversations with Jason Peters, Artificial Reef Coordinator with the NC Division of Marine Fisheries, the permitting process could take up to a year or more.

In addition to a CAMA Major Permit, we must also receive permits from the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Protected Resource Division of National Marine Fisheries. This is a daunting task and extremely time consuming. AR-165 will be the last artificial reef in North Carolina to have its own separate permit application. The Corps of Engineers and NCDMF are in the process of instituting a blanket permit process which will initially be very time consuming but would thereafter speed up the process and hopefully be more efficient.

Permit requests for AR-130,140,145 and 160 have been submitted and are expected to be approved to accept the Bonner Bridge rubble for enhancement purposes. The contract does not provide for bridge debris to be placed on AR-165.

While we are awaiting the issuance of permits, our Committee will be seeking matching funds to demonstrate the local interest in this artificial reef project. Such contributions could be significant in being selected for our second year funding proposal.

If you have any ideas about how we might successfully pursue such funding, please let our committee hear from you.