BATH, N.C. (WNCT) – An eight-year-long project from the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina is working to improve environmental stewardship off our coastline.

On Thursday, CCA NC deployed a 3D printed reef in the Pamlico River Just off the coast of Bath. Its designers said it will help ensure that the site endures continued fishing for years to come.

Along with the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries and an environmental infrastructure developer called Natrx, the CCA NC created the reef made of cement and sand through new technology.

“This process is called dry forming, is really fast, so each of these units, which are about 40,000 pounds, we can produce in 30 minutes. So we can create something that looks really naturalistic and like it belongs in the water as a reef,” said President of Natrx Matt Campbell.

David Sneed is the Executive Director of CCA NC and said this project is following a need to maintain the ability of these waters to support fish.

“A healthy fishery starts with a healthy habitat, and so by putting in these structures, we are actually creating a healthy ecosystem for fish species to thrive and grow in,” said Sneed.

He added he hopes this will help restore some species that have been struggling to be replenished for some time.

“On this river, in particular, the striped bass has been a fish of concern recently, there’s been a lot of efforts to get that stocked and recovered, and this gives them an opportunity and a place for that to happen,” said Sneed.

Artificial Reef Coordinator for the Division of Marine Fisheries, Jordan Byrum, said the reef will particularly provide habitat for oysters and small fish, which in turn attract larger fish.

“Oysters through a variety of harvest and environmental factors, the oysters are imperiled and so these are things that are important to provide habitat for health population,” said Byrum.

After the placement of a few units, a heat map showed fish already making the reef their new home after just about an hour.