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Prime Fishing Areas and Sand Mining

The Impact of Sand Mining on Prime Fishing Areas

Offshore sand mining for beach replenishment is documented to have a wide range of potential consequences on our marine environment, including disturbances to benthic organisms, food web disruptions, and water quality impacts. Many of these consequences can directly impact fish and fish habitat.

Recreational anglers are very concerned that sand mining near, trenching around, or complete removal of existing Prime Fishing Areas has a high likelihood of disrupting fishing activities. Sand mining that takes place in or around a PFA can cause a permanent loss of the resource, especially with complete removal of a feature such as a lump or ridge.

Angler Insights

Sand mining projects in New Jersey have been known to destroy or modify prime fishing areas, such as shoals, lumps or ridges, which are the very features many fish species utilize as habitat. Here we highlight two angler identified location concerns around conflicts between Prime Fishing Areas and federal sand mining projects.

“New Jersey has a love affair with wide, sandy beaches. The beaches embody the Jersey Shore but require extensive maintenance. By the nature of how sand moves, this means rebuilding beaches again and again, and the demand for more sand continues.”

Manasquan Ridge

The Manasquan Ridge is a PFA heavily utilized by recreational fishermen given that it is a relatively easily accessible near shore structure, approximately 5 NM from Manasquan Inlet and adjacent to the Axel Carlson Reef site. This sandy ridge formation lies in 60 feet of water, and often produces catches of recreationally important fish species such as bluefish, summer flounder, weakfish, Atlantic bonito, and false albacore. This PFA is designated as a sand borrow area by the Army Corps of Engineers for beach replenishment.

Click image to enlarge

Click image to enlarge

Sea Isle Lumps

The Sea Isle Lumps are located only 3 NM offshore of Sea Isle City, NJ, in sight of the Ocean City boardwalk and beaches. The area is a heavily fished PFA by recreational fishermen, including local head boats and charters. There are four individual sand lumps rising up from a relatively shallow 23 feet base depth. Given the site’s close proximity to Townsends Inlet, it sees many anglers annually especially in the peak summer months. Fish species targeted here include bluefish, summer flounder, striped bass, weakfish, Atlantic croaker, and Northern Kingfish. A proposed sand borrow lease area is within this PFA and is also designated as a potential extended future sand borrow site.