Bayview Reef Near Bath Creek in Beaufort County to Boost River Ecosystem and Local Economy

On the morning of Tuesday, May 10, 2022, a 3-D printed artificial reef, designed to provide a thriving habitat for fish and other marine life, will be submerged in the brackish water of the Pamlico River near Bayview, N.C. Eight years in the making, the joint effort, led by the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina (CCA NC) together with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), represents a milestone in the use of adaptive infrastructure technology and promises an economic boost for the Beaufort County community.

Raleigh-based Natrx, a global leader in the emerging field of nature-based adaptive infrastructure, designed and produced the concrete reef modules specifically for the local climate and river habitat. Using a new type of 3D printing technology called “dry forming,” the fabrication process creates naturalistic structures with curved surfaces and textures that are conducive to sustaining aquatic life. The crevices and holes in the sand and cement structures provide refuge for regionally important fish species such as striped bass and speckled trout.

One hundred reef cubes, each measuring 3′ by 3′ and weighing roughly 1,850 pounds, will be transported by barge and deployed at the Bayview Artificial Reef site (AR-291), located approximately 100 yards off the shoreline near the mouth of Bath Creek. The docking location and viewing area can be accessed by media and visitors at 1907 Bayview Rd. in Bath, N.C. Boats will be available to transport media closer to the reef site.

The materials used in the reef modules are routinely used in marine applications and are known to attract oysters and mussels, as well as crustaceans, invertebrates and other organisms in the food chain. The objective is to improve biological productivity and establish a reproduction reservoir which can revitalize an entire ecosystem. Improving fish stocks also provides an economic boost to the community through increased recreational fishing.

“This project reflects cutting-edge technology being used to not only sustain an important reef in the Pamlico River, but to also provide economic benefits to the community of recreational fishermen,” said David Sneed, CCA NC Executive Director. “Our mission is to advocate for North Carolina coastal resources, not only for those of us currently using them but also for future generations, so we’re always looking for new partnerships and opportunities to develop similar projects that enhance the health and viability of our fisheries.”

The Bayview reef site encompasses 1.8 underwater acres. The reef modules are spaced 10 feet apart in rows, with 40 feet between each row. The spacing allows for multiple boats to fish the area without crowding. The reef is a popular spot for local anglers and these improvements will help ensure the site endures for generations to come. “Our hope is that this is just the beginning of an ongoing partnership with the NC DMF that will result in more habitat improvements in coastal North Carolina,” said Bobby Rice, CCA NC Board VP for Habitat. “We want to do our part to help improve our coastal ecosystem with the construction of more reefs, including oyster reefs and ARs for recreational anglers.”

Original efforts to establish an artificial reef on the site were made in 2012 and 2013 using concrete reef balls and pipe. Since 2014, led by the efforts of CCA NC chairman emeritus Billy Byrd, and the organization has been instrumental in planning and fundraising to improve the Bayview Reef. Natrx was brought on board in 2021, and with help from DMF Artificial Reef Coordinator Jordan Byrum, a proposal to deploy the new 3-D printed reef modules was approved.

Natrx has earned worldwide attention for its innovation in nature-based, sustainable solutions designed to address challenges that environmental systems face, particularly in coastal regions. “Bayview is a terrific example of how adaptive infrastructure works,” said Leonard Nelson, CEO of Natrx. “These modules are designed for a variety of uses, including artificial fishing reefs, oyster reef restoration and shoreline protection.”

Bayview will be one of 25 estuarine artificial reefs maintained by the DMF. The department’s reef programs receive funding from the North Carolina General Assembly, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Program, the North Carolina Coastal Recreational Fishing License Grant Program and from private donations.

Financial contributors and supporters of the Bayview Reef initiative include individual donors and corporate partners Grady-White Boats, Nutrien, Toadfish Outfitters, and the Building Conservation Trust. Deployment of the Natrx modules is funded by a USFWS Sportfish Restoration grant awarded to the Division of Marine Fisheries Artificial Reef Program.

For CCA NC, the Bayview Reef is the latest restoration initiative to follow the success of the New River Oyster Highway, an oyster reef restoration project in partnership with the NC Wildlife Habitat Foundation and the City of Jacksonville, which was recently profiled in Outdoor Life magazine.

CCA members and supporters are invited and encouraged to get out on the water on Tuesday to watch the deployment.

Deployment details

  • Date: Tue., May 10, 2022
  • Location: 1907 Bayview Rd. in Bath, N.C.
  • 9 a.m. – Official remarks and photos
    • David Sneed, CCA NC Executive Director
    • Leonard Nelson, CEO of Natrx
    • Jordan Byrum, DMF Artificial Reef Coordinator
  • 9 – 10 a.m. – Media interviews
  • 10 a.m. – Depart dock for reef site and barge deployment


About CCA NC

CCA NC is a community of conservationists and recreational anglers working to promote sound management of public trust marine and estuarine resources and protect them for the enjoyment of current and future generations. CCA NC is affiliated with the Coastal Conservation Association, a national non-profit organization comprised of 17 coastal state chapters spanning the Gulf of Mexico, Pacific and Atlantic seaboards. CCA’s strength is drawn from the tens of thousands of recreational saltwater anglers who make up its membership and whose grassroots influence is felt through state capitals, U.S. Congress and, most importantly, in the conservation and restoration of our coastal marine resources.

About NCDMF:

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries artificial reef program manages 43 ocean reefs and 25 estuarine reefs, 14 of which serve as oyster sanctuaries. Ocean reefs are located from less than a mile to 38 miles from shore and are situated so that they can be reached from every maintained inlet in the state. The estuarine sites are found in Pamlico Sound and its tributaries, Bogue Sound, the New River, and the Cape Fear River. Estuarine reefs are marked on each corner with 13-inch diameter white buoys or three-pile dolphin markers. Artificial reefs are considered crucial spawning and foraging habitat for many important fish species – so much so that the N.C. Coastal Habitat Protection Plan recommends expanding reef construction to offset past habitat degradation, habitat loss, and water quality degradation that can negatively impact coastal ecosystems.

About Grady-White Boats:

Grady-White Boats, founded in Greenville, NC in 1959, has been privately held by Eddie Smith since 1968.  The company builds superbly engineered coastal fishing boats from 18-45 ft. with a reputation for the highest quality and legendary customer satisfaction.  A hallmark of the organization is Smith’s and his team’s passion for fisheries, waterways, and coastal resource conservation stewardship. Grady-White has consistently led the industry in promoting and actively supporting the health of these resources with words, deeds, and financial contributions.  For Grady-White owners and enthusiasts, now and in the future, this legacy of responsibility, stewardship, and preservation of resources is as much a part of the brand and ownership experience as are the boats themselves.

About Nutrien:

Nutrien is the world’s largest provider of crop inputs and services, playing a critical role in helping growers increase food production in a sustainable manner. The company has a large presence in eastern North Carolina employing more than 850 at the Aurora phosphate mining and processing operation. There are many Nutrien Ag Solutions retail locations throughout the state. Nutrien’s commitment to safety and its Culture of Care mission protects workers, neighbors and the environment. To learn more about Nutrien, visit: Nutrien.com.

About Toadfish Outfitters:

As humans, we are intimately connected to our oceans. we depend on them every day, for clean water, clean air, and the health of these ecosystems is essential to our survival. BUT THE OCEAN IS BECOMING A DUMPING GROUND. Toxic for marine species and ecosystems are on the verge of collapse. water quality is the most important environmental issue of our time. the number of people living on the coast has increased by 40% in the last 30 years and shows no signs of slowing down. with the population increase, the amount of toxic run off from coastal cities and towns has increased 10-fold, placing an unprecedented amount of strain on coastal resources. Nature has provided the filter-feeding oyster to keep our coasts clean and teeming with life. a single oyster filters up to 50 gallons of coastal water per day, removing the toxins from run off and creating a habitat where hundreds of species like fish, crabs, and shrimp can thrive. WITH YOUR HELP, WE HAVE PLANTED…210,643 Square feet of oyster beds. Your purchase has a purpose. For every product sold, we will replant new oyster beds to help clean our coastal waters.

About BCT

The Building Conservation Trust (BCT) was created to provide vital funding for grassroots-driven projects that achieve one or more of five key objectives: Restore degraded habitats; Create new habitats; Advance the science of coastal habitat and marine fisheries conservation; Foster habitat stewardship; and Educate coastal communities of the value of conservation. Since inception, funds provided by BCT have proven to be incredibly impactful in the world of marine habitat conservation. Through a highly successful matching funds program, BCT has garnered over $18 million towards over 40 projects, all being placed in our waters.


Media contact:

Charles Upchurch

(919) 395-1588



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