proposed artificial reef

Richard Grigg rgrigg at
Wed Nov 21 16:48:55 EST 2001

To all,

         Aside from the shape, location, material, etc. that one uses to 
construct a artificial reefs, another important point that often is NOT 
considered is their protection.  It is common knowledge that artificial 
reefs do aggregate fishes, therefore making them (the fishes) easier to 
catch.  But, if all fishing is prohibited, then artificial reefs may serve 
not just to aggregate but CONSERVE the stocks, and create a haven for 
non-consumptive uses.  Unfortunately, most artificial reefs in the past 
have been built to serve the interests of fishermen.

                                                                 Rick Grigg

At 11:34 AM 11/21/01 -0800, kdm at wrote:
>Hi Kay Lynn
>The artificial reef creation business is a really tricky one. Part of
>the problem is that it is too often used as a "feel good" excercise in
>lieu of taking on the real issues and threats to existing reefs.
>You should definitely think about a couple of things: purpose (why
>you are creating an artificial reef), materials (are they suitable/safe)
>and how the materials will be deployed.
>If you are creating an artificial reef as a fish sanctuary I think John
>McManus already gave you a good overview. I'm not sure your reefs
>are chronically overfished. If they are not, you would expect to see
>a spill over effect onto your "new" reefs ie fish would indeed migrate
>over to them. I would not expect the spill over to deplete your
>existing protected areas, unless there were something forcing them
>out of the protected areas. Why should terminal junk be MORE
>attractive to fish than the real thing ???
>If your purpose is reef enhancement .. terminal junk will always be
>terminal junk. It may become covered in coral over time but it is
>unlikely ever to mimic a "reef". You would be better going for FADs
>like "Reef Balls" or similar. In any case if your reefs are being held
>in check by anything other than just lack of available substrate,
>you would also need to address these other factors simultaneously
>in order to be able to "create" a new reef. In other words if there are
>no reefs because of high sedimentation level, you would need to
>stop the source of the sediment too.
>If your purpose is to please divers you are into a completely
>different ball game. Not only can wrecks/junk really ease diving
>pressure on real reefs but divers love this kind of stuff - Cayman is
>poised to turn itself into the wreck mecca of the Caribbean - I'm
>serious !. So you could be giving Cayman a run for their money. In
>this case of course,  you would need to select only those items
>which divers find attractive.
>If your purpose however is simply for the Terminal to "legitimately"
>get rid of their junk, which they would otherwise no doubt be legally
>required to dispose of in a responsible fashion - I guess the answer
>is "nah" !
>In terms of materials, there is a great publication entitled
>"Guidelines for Marine Artificial Reef Materials" by the Gulf States
>Marine Fisheries Commission No. 38 Jan 1997. This gives a blow
>by blow account of overview, benefits, drawbacks and
>recommendations for just about any substance someone is likely
>to want to dump in the Marine Park. The web address for a
>downloadable pdf version is:
>My advice re materials, such as it is, would be to make sure they
>are sufficiently heavy. The last thing you want is a junk yard which
>rolls around killing what ever natural reef, in fauna etc you have
>every time there is a big blow.
>And of course ... you would need to make sure it's not toxic !!
>This may not be an issue for you if your existing reefs are far
>enough away from the proposed site, but you probably do need to
>consider what the impact will be of getting the Terminal junk from
>where it is now to where you/they want to place it. If it means
>anchoring barges etc you may be doing more harm than good ....
>Current wisdom says that the material should be clustered (not
>spread out across the bottom) and that it should be of
>approximately the same height (no more than 1/3 water depth). Do
>make sure it is not going to pose a hazard to navigation !
>I can send you our stack of references if you would like to see what
>the scientific community has written about artificial reefs. We also
>have a draft fact sheet in preparation on artificial reefs which is
>aimed at MPA practitioners and includes practical advice
>(summarized above) which I would be happy to forward to you. Let
>me know
>Good luck !
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