CHESAPEAKE BEACH, Md. (April 1, 2008) On Friday the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative (MARI) christened what will be its largest project to date, the Dominion Reef at the Gooses.
"The Dominion Reef at the Gooses represents a valuable opportunity to enhance the benthic habitat of a site in the Chesapeake that has the potential to be a field of dreams for myriad species - from mussels, oysters and anemones to crabs, striped bass and many other types of finfish," said John R. Griffin, Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary. "The ecological benefits will also translate into economic benefits to many local bay communities, including Chesapeake Beach, Deale, Solomons, Tilghman and Kent Island."
The artificial reef site at the Gooses covers a 320-acre site with about 80 acres of concrete. The reef is located on the Chesapeake Bay about ten miles southeast of Chesapeake Beach and northwest of Dominions liquefied natural gas storage facility at Cove Point.
The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure, and Dominion is excited to be part of MARI and this innovative strategy of using artificial reefs to help protect and restore the bay, said Pamela Faggert, vice president and chief environmental officer for Dominion.
The artificial reef project has been successful in capturing support of the public, local businesses, conservation groups, state agencies and recreational anglers. During its first year, MARI raised nearly $1.4 million to support reef projects around the state. The Dominion Foundation was the largest corporate sponsor, providing a total of $275,000 for the Dominion Reef at the Gooses.
Historically, the Chesapeake Bay supported thousands of oyster reefs and billions of oysters, which provided invaluable nutrient and sediment filtering. The reefs also provided important habitat for grasses, crabs, fish and other aquatic life. Over the years, harvesting, disease, sedimentation and pollution have dramatically reduced those oyster populations. Artificial reefs offer an opportunity to re-establish aquatic reef habitat in the bay.
More than 50 partnering conservation organizations, businesses, foundations, outdoor recreational organizations, and countless individuals have provided resources to make MARI possible. Individuals can help with reef projects across the State by buying a ton via a tax-deductible donation to the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative. The Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative was created in early 2007 to raise funds to facilitate development of marine habitat enhancement projects across the state.
For more information visit http://www.ccamd.org/MARI/MARI_home.htm .
Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)