Restarting Virginia’s Artificial Reef Program

July 17, 2018.  Meeting minutes from the VSSA Artificial Reef Committee meeting held July 17.  Next meeting is August 21st at 7 pm.

VSSA Meeting minutes Reef Committee – 17 Jul 18

July 11, 2018.

Virginia’s Artificial Reef Program
Volunteers Needed

The Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Association (VSSA) is forming an exploratory committee to determine the feasibility of VSSA, as a non-profit, to restart, rebuild, and fund Virginia’s artificial reef program.  VMRC is the lead state agency but year after year VMRC has been subjected to budget cuts just like all state agencies has in the past.  Our license funds keep the program going but now only minimal effort and funding is taking place at the state level.  We see other states building more inshore and offshore reefs yet Virginia remains stagnant in this area.  This committee will be a no more than 6 month effort to put together a plan of action on how (and if) VSSA can assist our state agencies for the artificial reef program.  This exploratory committee will:

1.  Determine the feasibility of a non-profit (VSSA) leading efforts to rebuild – restart the Virginia Artificial Reef Program.

2.  Layout the local, state, and federal regulatory requirements for such a program.

3.  Explore options for funding and leveraging contracts / contractors for reef material.

4.  Outline the manpower requirements (mostly volunteer) to achieve the goals.

5.  Outline (in broad terms) for new material for existing reefs and need for new reefs both inshore and offshore.

6.  Write a plan of action for VSSA to consider taking action by the end of the 6 month effort.

VSSA is seeking volunteers to be a part of this committee who has the time to take on tasks and do the work needed.  We are not looking for individuals to simply offer advice but not willing to take on tasks.  This is not a program to just benefit Hampton Roads rather the reef program, if executed properly benefits all locations on the Chesapeake Bay and Coastal areas of the entire state.  The first meeting will be via teleconference on Tuesday July 17, 2018 at 7 pm.   If you are interested in serving on this committee please respond with Name, Phone Number, and email address to  You will be provided with the instructions on how to participate in the teleconference.

VSSA believes there is so much more Virginia can do to have a robust reef program that can provide an essential habitat for a variety of fish species but can also be a great benefit to anglers.  But to pull this off we need a strong network of hard working volunteers willing to rollup their sleeves to get the job done. If we do not have enough volunteers, we cannot attempt such an endeavor.  Your help is need to make a difference.

Mike Avery
Virginia Saltwater Sportfishing Association (VSSA)

February 14, 2017.  Here is a good news story.


VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – For the last month, crews have been working to demolish the old Lesner Bridge in Virginia Beach. But demolishing the bridge may not happen the way you’d expect.

Crews are not using explosives. Instead, they have a very specific process that uses saws. It’s destruction with a purpose.

“It’s been really exciting,” said Robert Bennett, a project engineer who has been working on the Lesner Bridge for more than two years. “To see the precast segment construction has really been the highlight of my career.

You may not share the same enthusiasm for a bridge project, but the method of demolition certainly catches the eye.

Crews use diamond-tipped circular saws that cut the bridge into rectangles. Those eight by 100 feet rectangles are then placed on barges.

Bennett says explosives would have made the actual demolition easier, but it would have meant more clean up. Plus, their removal method means the old bridge can be put to good use.

“Each time a barge goes out, it’ll take about 800 tons of material and then dump it into a pre-described location,” said Bennett.

That predetermined location is the Cabbage Patch Reef. It’s an artificial reef created by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission that uses old construction materials.

Bennett said, “It’s great for the environment and it reduces the disposal costs for the contractor.”

Part of the bridge is also headed to Virginia Tech. Researches will analyze different parts of the bridge, like concrete cores and deck cores.

“Several of the beams that were removed were specifically chosen by the Virginia Research Council and they’re going to have testing done on those beams,” said Bennett.

Bennett says the demolition is happening in two places on the bridge. That gives crews the ability to start construction on the new bridge, even as the demolition is ongoing.

VSSA with support from several VSSA affiliate members are exploring ways with VMRC to restart the stalled Artificial Reef Program in Virginia. 

Please check back on this page to see our progress.