The buoys are where they’ve always been. Many of them anyway. For a short while.
A project to remove 36 buoys deemed no longer necessary to mark artificial reefs will continue, though not as quickly as planned. That will allow fishermen along the northern and southern North Carolina coasts to orient to reef-marking buoys for a few more months.
And as buoys disappear, fishermen will gain access to charts updating the ocean reef locations.
Ten buoys have been removed from reefs primarily off Carteret and Onslow counties since the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries announced the project in August.
Other removals will wait until locations are verified with technology more accurate than the charts and LORAN-A and LORAN-C radio navigation systems used in creating the reefs, Craig Hardy, the division’s Habitat and Enhancement Section leader, said Monday from Morehead City.
“What we found is some of our material may actually be off the permitted reef sites, and the Coast Guard and the National Ocean Service wanted to make sure everything that was depicted on the charts and the material locations were all accurate before we were allowed to pull the buoys,” said Hardy, who expects the last buoys to be pulled by next summer.
The departures of a coordinator and a biologist also slowed the project, which became necessary because of budget cuts and was enabled by the growing use of GPS technology by fishermen, some of whom want to see the 41 ocean buoys stay.
“We did get a lot of reaction. I think people are still upset,” Hardy said. “I think that in the public’s eye, the buoys are more than just to locate the reef, which is definitely a benefit. They also use it to orient themselves to structure on the reef.”
But, Hardy said, people will adapt to modernization. They’ll also benefit from technology as well.
“We do have (an N.C. Coastal Recreational Fishing License) grant to redo our artificial reef guide,” Hardy said. “The new one that comes out will be published on paper, but it will be accessible (and updatable) on the Web.”
Learn more at http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/.
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