MOREHEAD CITY - Artificial Reef 455, located offshore of Brunswick County, will officially be named the "Dale Ward Reef," on Thursday, October 3 at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. ceremonies at the Southport Marina, in Southport. The U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament, along with the Southport-Oak Island Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the Long Bay Artificial Reef Association, requested the name designation to honor Division of Marine Fisheries employee Dale Ward and recognize his outstanding contribution to conservation of North Carolina's recreational fishery resources.

Ward has been a North Carolina state employee since 1974 and has worked with the Division of Marine Fisheries since 1982. He has spearheaded many recreational programs, including the North Carolina Governor's Cup Conservation Billfish Tournament Series and has worked closely organizing fishing tournaments along the coast.

The "Dale Ward Reef" (AR-455) is located in Long Bay, 7 miles south of Oak Island, off Brunswick County, NC. The material on this reef site is in 46 feet of water and consists of, 10 box cars, about 650 pieces of concrete pipe and man-hole sections, and 200 reef balls.

Artificial reefs are comprised of man-made structures such as decommissioned vessels, railroad cars, and concrete reef balls, pipe and large pieces of concrete rubble. They are called artificial reefs because they provide the same benefits as naturally occurring reefs - food and shelter for marine life. Once a structure is colonized by marine organisms, small baitfish move in, followed by larger fish prized by anglers.

North Carolina has one of the most aggressive artificial reef programs in the nation, with 39 ocean sites and seven estuarine sites. Each artificial reef is assigned a Global Position System "address" for easy location by anglers. The DMF supervises and maintains the artificial reef sites and partners with various fishing clubs and organization to enhance existing sites. Visit http://www.ncdmf.net/reefs/index.html to find the location of the reef nearest you.

Editor's Note:  On Friday, October 4, Dale Ward lost his long battle with cancer.  He was well known and respected throughout the fishing community along the entire southeast coast.  He will be greatly missed.  Godspeed Dale


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