Artificial reef outside Humboldt Bay

Am following up on today’s story in the T-S about the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District (link and excerpt below).  Clearly the surf community should be part of this conversation.

Has the idea of creating an artificial reef just off Humboldt Bay to enhance sport fishing finally come of age?

It may be too early to tell, but harbor commissioners on Thursday night decided to apply for a state lease after a group of anglers put up half the application fee and announced they are ready to help make the reef happen. The Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District staff will prepare a tideland lease application to the State Lands Commission for a one-square-mile area one mile northwest of the harbor entrance.

The Humboldt Offshore Reef Project would entail, as currently conceived, sinking a number of “reef balls,” cement and metal manufactured structures that would create habitat for rockfish over time.

”We think we can manufacture them ourselves and place them ourselves,” said Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers representative Casey Allen.

It’s possible that a ship — through a program called California Ships to Reefs — could be sunk in the area at a later date. Allen suggested that a partnership be developed in which the Harbor District handle paper work like permitting and environmental review, while HASA raises funds and does the physical work.

Allen presented the district with a $1,500 check to cover half of the initial application fee.

Harbor District Executive Officer David Hull said that the idea had its genesis in the 1980s, as salmon fishing became constrained. The California Department of Fish and Game chose a site for an artificial reef and dove the area, Hull said, but disagreement among charter fishermen at the time held up progress.

Hull said that the district — which has long supported the concept — would likely seek outside funding for its share of the work.


6 Responses

  1. A one-square-mile area is going to require a lot of reef balls!

  2. I know there’s a joke in there, somewhere, Beel!


    So I spoke with Dave Hull and Casey Allen, who was kind enough to have coffee with me.

    Regarding the artificial reef project, the Harbor District is the lead agency, with support from Humboldt Area Saltwater Anglers. They’re working from an old idea formulated by Fish & Game – F&G dove the site in 1991 and decided it would make sense to site an artificial reef there – “there” being one square mile of ocean floor about one mile straight west off the North Jetty.

    The shallowest reef ball would be at about a 60-foot depth, the deepest at about 100-foot. This is a fairly novel project for California (Casey says), unlike Florida where they have gazillions of these things.

    Surfrider Foundation’s formal position has generally been reluctance to support artificial reefs (both because of potential environmental impacts and the fact that they usually haven’t been successful for producing quality waves) and instead has focused on the protection of existing waves.

    That said, until we know more about this project and potential (or not) effects, we don’t have a local position. Given the depth and distance, my initial thought is impact will be negligible, but I must emphasize that I have no idea about how this all works!

    I do have some emails out to folks who know more than I do about this stuff and will keep everyone posted.

  3. Also, Mike Wilson (Third District HBHRD Commissioner) has made sure I’m added to the Harbor Dist’s email list, so we’ll be better informed in advance regarding future ocean issues that arise under the district’s jurisdiction!

  4. Could that affect the Humboldt Littoral Cell, if that’s even the right term for “sand-drift”?

    • Mike-
      Yes, i think that adding roughness elements on the sea floor would influence sediment transport. Sand drift is a function of slope, depth, current, sediment supply and roughness.

  5. I heard a good comment today from a surfer who suggested that if the artificial reef was west of the South Jetty, there would be less chance of impacting surf on the N Jetty side. It would be a downer if the artificial reef acted like a barrier reef and reduced swell at N Jetty.

    Perhaps we should discuss this amongst ourselves and see if there is consensus on this point. If so, we should share this position asap with the Harbor District .

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