[Coral-List] Artificial Reefs-Response from Todd Barber
reefball at reefball.com
Mon Mar 8 09:28:58 EST 2004
I would like to respond to your presumption that artificial reefs may not be valuable tools because the newly settled fish are not enough to offset fishing pressures.
There are a few factors that you have overlooked in your analysis.
1) Artificial Reefs don't necessarily change fishing pressure (i.e. people will still fish on natural reefs if there are no artificial reefs to fish on, so there is not necessarily a net loss to fish by the act of building a reef). This, of course, only holds true when artificial reefs do not change the ease at which a fisherman can catch fish. For this reason our Foundation has generally opposed the use of shipwrecks as artificial reefs when WHEN USED FOR FISH STOCK ENHANCEMENT OR BIOLOGICAL GOALS because taller artificial reefs can reduce fishing effort/increase catch rates. (Note: Shipwrecks may have some merit when the goals of a project are scuba diving or tourisum oriented and not biological. There are some studies that show in some places that shipwrecks can reduce diving pressure on natural reefs and we don't oppose their use for these specific goals.)
2) Artificial reefs (or natural reefs) don't just create new settled fish, they provide habitat for adult fish (habitat can increase the heath and growth rates of adult fish). And also, artificial reefs (or natural reefs) provide a great deal more environmental resources than just fish. (corals need substrate to rebuild natural reefs, inverts, algaes, and thousands and thousands of other species of life use reefs as habitat). Your argument that because we are taking fish from the ocean means there is plenty of habitat is flawed for two reasons. 1) Mankind has destroyed fish (and reef) habitat at an alarming rate...we could not possibly build enough habitat to replace that which has already been lost or degraded. 2) If it is man's desire to take fish, we must provide ways to give fish an advantage in reproduction and growth so that populations remain at healthy stock levels. (I.E. providing specific habitats that get fish through life cycle bottlenecks such as has been done with designed artificial reefs that have preditor exclusion devices in their design).
3) Of the thousands of juviniles that settle on reefs that you describe, many more make it to first maturaty that you may think. The really high mortality is from eggs to juviniles...ever wonder why a fish releases millions of eggs in a spawn and not just a couple? And again, the more habitat that is present, the more the likelyhood that these juvinile fish will make it to maturity.
from your message, (and I put my answers in CAPS to follow your question...not because I am "screaming")
"Show me a situation where an artificial reef will not lead to
overfishing." LIMIT ARTIFICIAL REEF DESIGN TO DESIGNS THAT DO NOT REDUCE FISHING EFFORT/CATCH AN THEN IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR ARTIFICIAL REEFS TO LEAD TO OVERFISHING.
"Show me the fishing restrictions and the evidence that they will be followed." THIS IS AN ISSUE FOR ALL WATER WHERE FISH ARE PRESENT AND MUST BE MANAGED BY THE STAKEHOLDERS (I.E. GOVERNMENT) AND USING OR NOT USING ARTIFICIAL REEFS WILL NOT CHANGE THIS.
"Then show me that parts of it will not lift up during large storms and destroy natural habitat." LIMIT ARTIFICIAL REEF DESIGN TO STRUCTURES PROVEN TO BE AS STABLE AS NATURAL REEF HEAD.
"Show me that it won't pollute". LIMIT ARTIFICIAL REEFS TO STRUCTURES THAT USE ONLY INERT MATERIALS.
"Show me that you have not diverted public funds from conservation efforts, and that the expected returns justify the investment." PUBLIC FUNDS ARE NOT DIVERTED, THEY ARE COMPETED FOR AND AWARDED TO EFFORTS DEEMED BY THE PUBLIC TO JUSTIFY EXPECTED RETURNS. IF ARTIFICIAL REEFS WERE NOT PROVIDING THAT RETURN, THEN PUBLIC FUNDS WOULD DRY UP. IF CONSERVATION EFFORTS ARE NOT BEING FUNDED AT ADEQUATE LEVELS, THEN WE NEED TO DEVELOP TECHNIQUES FOR CONSERVATION THAT JUSTIFY THE EXPECTED RETURNS BETTER SO THAT THE PUBLIC WILL AWARD MORE FUNDING TO CONSERVATION.
Show me that these and other harmful effects have been accounted for and I will be public ally supportive.
HERE IS WHERE YOU MAKE YOUR BEST ARGUMENT AND I FULLY AGREE, AS WITH ANY MANAGEMENT TOOL, ARTIFICIAL REEFS ARE ONLY AS GOOD AS THE PEOPLE/AGENCIES/NGOs/SCIENTISTS WHO DESIGN, PLAN, BUILD, MONTIOR AND MANAGE THEM. AND ANY ENVIRONMENTL INTERVENTION...EVEN CONSERVATION EFFORTS CAN HAVE MAKE MISTATKES BUT I THINK WE CAN ALL AGREE THAT WE MUST CONTINUE CONSERVATION EFFORTS AND HABITAT RECONSTRUCTIONS AS BEST AS TECHNOLOGY ALLOWS OR MORE AND MORE HABITATS WILL BE LOST WORLDWIDE AND WE WON'T HAVE MUCH LEFT TO CONSERVE OR REBUILD
AND FINALLY, I AGREE THAT ALL NEW ARTIFICIAL REEF TECHNIQUES SUCH AS ELECTRIC CURRENTS SHOULD BE TESTED, STUDIED, AND IF THEY CAN MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS AND THAT OF ARTIFICIAL REEF PROFESSIONALS, THEY COULD BE ANOTHER TOOL AVAILABLE TO HELP.
Reef Ball Foundation, a 501(c) 3 Publicly Supported Non-Profit Charity (NGO)
More information about the Coral-List