4:50pm

Fri October 4, 2013
Environment

Should a ship be deliberately sunk in Lake Ontario?

The possibility of deliberately sinking a ship in Lake Ontario will be discussed at a seminar Saturday at SUNY Oswego. Dave White, of New York Sea Grant, which is hosting the conference, says sinking a vessel along the shoreline would create a tourism spot for recreational divers and also provide a habitat for fish.

"It provides an area for protection for various species," White said. "It provides an opportunity for actually enhanced habitat for them, so you can actually, in different parts, create an artificial reef in areas where you're going to increase fish populations. So it does bring a whole biological management scheme to the table."

White says it's like adding accessories to a fish tank, but on a much larger scale.

"When you would go out and do that for your aquarium, you're going to pick something you feel maybe blends in with your house or your decor," White said. "You want to do the same thing when people are talking about sinking something. Are there things there, or are you going to put something in that adds value to the community versus just sinking a bunch of stuff off shore."

Divers spend more than $100 million a year in the Great Lakes region, paying for food, boats, fuel and diving supplies.

But White says the process of cleaning and sinking a boat could take years to accomplish, and must be done in accordance with state and federal governments. Once it's sunk, it will last hundreds of years because of the lake's cold, fresh water. Other areas have intentionally sunk, or scuttled, things like a subway car in Cape May, New Jersey, and pieces of Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Lake Erie.

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