State, non-profit plant artificial reef in Sabin Point waters

Hopes to grow fish populations, use as study for future efforts

Posted 10/23/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — The city’s coastline will enjoy a first among attempts to help the continued regeneration of Narragansett Bay as a whole and the waters off East Providence …

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State, non-profit plant artificial reef in Sabin Point waters

Hopes to grow fish populations, use as study for future efforts

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The city’s coastline will enjoy a first among attempts to help the continued regeneration of Narragansett Bay as a whole and the waters off East Providence specifically.

During parts of both October 24 and 25, The Nature Conservancy and Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management have contracted a company to construct an artificial reef off Sabin Point Park in the Riverside section of the city at a cost of $47,000. It is the first time cement reef balls have been deployed in state waters.

The company Specialty Diving will transport 64 reef balls, which are hollow, dome-shaped structures, three feet high by four feet in diameter, via barge from Quonset Point to Sabin Point.

A large crane will then lift the reef balls, eight at a time, suspended with straps from a steel frame and install them on the bay floor. Construction will be visible from Sabin Point Park.

According to the notes provided by The Nature Conservancy, the project is an attempt enhance recreational fishing at Sabin Point. More broadly, it will test whether artificial reefs are an effective strategy for boosting the overall productivity of upper Narragansett Bay.

The assertion is by adding complex structure to the floor, the reef system will create habitat for juvenile and adult sport fish and improve recreational fishing at Sabin Point. Target species include tautog, black sea bass and scup.

Another aim of the project is advance research on the impact of artificial reefs in Rhode Island, which may serve as a model for future reef projects in upper Narragansett Bay.

The project is co-led by scientists at The Nature Conservancy and the RIDEM Division of Marine Fisheries. It is funded largely through the federal Sport Fish Restoration Program, administered by RIDEM, with additional funds raised by The Nature Conservancy, including a grant from the R.I. Saltwater Anglers Association.

Earlier this year, as part of an award the state received via litigation with Volkswagen, the city received $850,000 for continued stormwater system remediation project to reopen Sabin Point beach to swimming

Volkswagen faced suits throughout the country for violations similar to those in Rhode Island, where it was found to have broken state laws prohibiting the sale and leasing of diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed emissions control defeat device software.

Previously, the city through other means of state funding and assists from Save the Bay, has improved drainage in the neighborhood surrounding Sabin Point Park to prevent stormwater runoff there into the bay. Those efforts included the installation of modern filtration systems designed to replace pipes that previously flowed directly into East Providence waters.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.