The above video is of the NC Division of Marine Fisheries, DMF, adding new concrete material to the artificial reef off the Carolina Beach shoreline October 2, 2008. The DMF is assisting the Fish For Tomorrow organization in their ongoing efforts to increase the stock of Southern Flounder in NC waterways. The importance of their efforts cannot be understated when you consider that the NC flounder is "on the verge of extinction here in North Carolina." (WWAY interview with Tim Barefoot, Director of Fish for Tomorrow)
Fish For Tomorrow is a local organization that stands at the forefront of fisheries stock enhancement through aquaculture, creative reef placement and public education. Just last year, Fish For Tomorrow members helped start a pilot hatchery program at South Brunswick High School near Southport, NC. And today, flounder hatchlings are currently growing inside the aquatanks.
Another primary goal for the organization is to provide increased habitat for the NC fisheries stock. To accomplish this goal, they are working with the DMF in placing artificial reef materials in locations near our shorelines that are easily accessible by sport anglers.
The concrete material used in this years reef drop was donated by inland precasters. Once donated, Fish for Tomorrow is responsible for transporting the material to the State Port in Wilmington where the DMF takes over and delivers the material to the target site. Fish for Tomorrow pays for the transportation cost by raising money during its annual fishing tournament, Flat Bottom Girls, which takes place the first Saturday in November.
The Flat Bottom Girls tournament helps this the Fish For Tomorrow program in two ways. First the money raised is used for reef material transportation costs. Secondly, all the Flounder caught during the tournament will be used in their Flounder Hatchery Program. This is important because the Organization needs a healthy and substantial adult population to accomplish their goals.
Based on existing scientific evidence, Fish For Tomorrow estimates that producing and releasing millions of fingerlings (2-5 inches long) into the wild could have a tremendous effect on the Southern Flounder population within just five years. The mortality rate of 4-inch long fingerlings versus hatchlings in the wild is estimated to be reduced by upwards of 95 percent. The wonderful news is that this same process can be used to shore up the stocks of other native species.
As an aside, the materials that DMF uses in creating and growing artificial reefs is quite varied. Just in Southeast NC, they have used: sunken barges, ships, tug boats, dredges, tankers, train box cars, reef balls, tires, boat molds, F-4 aircraft, and a 230' bridge span.
So to everyone involved in this extremely important effort, we all say thank you and wish you continued success.
For more information or to make a donation (this includes flounder donations if you are fortunate to catch a larger one), please visit the Fish For Tomorrow website.
To learn more about DMF's artificial reef program, please visit their website.