CCA & Partners Kickstart Fishing Reef in Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay

About a mile offshore from historic Gwynn Island on the Chesapeake’s western shore sits an artificial fishing reef in about 25-foot of water. Steaming through a narrow inland channel on a brisk winter’s day was a barge loaded with 54 reef balls and 250 pyramids, headed toward Gwynn Island Artificial Reef Site, a once popular fishing reef that hadn’t received any new material in many years.

The barge’s crew was met by staff from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission’s (VMRC) artificial fishing reef unit. Objective? Place the 24 tons of reef material on to the permitted site where oysters and other marine life will soon grow, attracting an assortment of forage and game fish and eventually anglers.

The reef balls and pyramids were supplied by Coastal Conservation Association Virginia (CCA Virginia) and Coastal Conservation Association Maryland, who teamed up VMRC staff to add more relief and structure to the site. The reef balls were built at Tackle Cove Outfitters on Virginia’s Northern Neck in late 2023 by students from Chesapeake Academy, CCA Virginia members and other community volunteers. The concrete pyramids were donated by Kinsley Construction in York, PA, and through a partnership with the Ocean City Reef Foundation and Capt. Monty Hawkins were provided to the Gwynn Island project. Some funding was also provided by Building Conservation Trust, CCA’s national habitat restoration initiative that funds projects on all three coasts.

It was yet another example of how teamwork makes the dream work for Living Reef Action Campaign, CCA’s flagship habitat and education program in the Chesapeake region that since 2015 has engaged thousands of students and community members in hands-on experiences that inspire stewardship of the Bay’s marine resources.

“Chesapeake anglers are exceptional stewards of our marine resources and are eager to help advance habitat restoration in the Bay,” said Captain Chris Dollar, CCA Senior Advisor for the Chesapeake Region. “CCA Virginia is committed to revitalizing fish habitat that helps improve recreational fishing in the Commonwealth, and the Gwynn Island project is hopefully just the first of many projects with VMRC and our state and regional partners.”

Visit for more information state artificial reef locations.

Photo Credit: VMRC, CCA Maryland, CCA Virginia

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