Delaware adding to its artificial reef collection

February 24, 2018

Delaware has an outstanding artificial reef program headed by Jeff Tinsman. Over the years, he has secured many items for our reefs, from concrete pipe to the USS Radford. I recently became aware from his post on Saltfish of his latest acquisition, thousands of tons of rocks from the Delaware River.

The Delaware Main Channel Deepening Project has been underway for years, and part of the spoils have been tons of rocks blasted from the bottom. Jeff asked for these rocks for our artificial reefs on several occasions, but the Army Corps of Engineers refused. His justification was that the rocks from a New York dredging project have been going to New York and New Jersey reef sites. 

In late November, the Norfolk Dredging Company ran into a problem. The spoil material from the Chester Reach was supposed to be fine sediment, but it turned out to be rocks pushed downstream by melting glaciers. The rocks varied in size, from fist to Volkswagen. The Corps got in touch with Jeff to see if he could help them solve this problem. Fortunately, he just happened to have reef sites 6 and 7 that could hold all 200,000 cubic yards of rocks. The material will be applied by hopper dredge over two periods, from now until March 15 and again from July to October. The dredging operation goes on day and night, and by the time it is done, sites 6 and 7 will be fully developed.

Great Lakes Dredging has been sending rocks from its part of the river down to New Jersey reef sites. That rock will now go to site 4, which is much closer, saving both time and money. This project is also in two phases, and when it’s complete, Site 4 will be fully developed.

Sites 9 and 10 were set aside to receive material from the old Indian River Inlet bridge, but that did not work out. As a result, any concrete material that comes to the program will go on those two sites.

The next major deployment will be the Twin Capes, one of the Cape May-Lewes ferries, onto the Del-Jersey-Land Reef. This is scheduled for May. The ferry is currently in Norfolk, Va., where Coleen Shipyard is preparing it for deployment.

Gun control

I would think anyone with any experience in trying to bring about some sensible gun control laws realizes the current efforts by students after the deaths of 17 teachers and classmates in Parkland, Fla., are doomed to failure. Oh, the politicians will pray and console and give lip service, but if it ever comes to a vote, they will not go against their good friends in the NRA.

While meaningful gun control like outlawing military-style semiautomatic rifles and bump stocks or improving background checks to include those with unstable minds has little chance of becoming law, at least these young people will get an education on how the government works. Right now, their influence is not very great. First of all, they are too young to vote, and very few politicians will pay any attention to them. Second, they don’t have a war chest of money to match the funds from the NRA, which it is happy to spread around to do itself the most good.

The one good thing that may come from the involvement of young people is that we may see an improvement in school security. My guess is some states will pass legislation to put metal detectors in schools, require see-through book bags, and perhaps have an in-school enforcement officer. Getting funding for these changes will always be difficult.

As I have stated many times before, I have been a gun owner since I was 10 years old. I hunt, and I have taken part in non-competitive shooting sports, and also have a gun for home protection. I fail to see how improving background checks, or outlawing military-style semiautomatic rifles and bump stocks is going to deprive me of doing any of the things I currently do or may plan to do in the future. Please, don’t tell me that banning military-style rifles would just be the first step in banning all firearms. That is a scare tactic used by the NRA and has no basis in fact. 

One interesting result of the current administration in Washington is the decline in gun sales. When President Obama was in office, gun sales were steadily climbing. Since President Trump took office, gun shops report a steady decline in sales. Last week, Remington Arms Company filed for Chapter 11 protection.

Finally, even if all the sensible gun laws were passed, it would not stop all gun violence. There are millions upon millions of guns in the U.S., and if anyone wants one, they can get one. No background checks required.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at

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