[Coral-List] Re: Artificial Reefs-Response again (long, sorry!)
reefball at reefball.com
Mon Mar 8 13:12:32 EST 2004
I too am responding from an artificial reefs in general, not a Reef Ball, perspective. EIAs are not generally required for artificial reefs (in the US) because there is an extensive permitting process that includes numerious assessments. The permit process includes governmental public notice and invites comments before approval. In terms of periodic review and adapative management, every county in Florida, for example, has an artificial reef coordintor whose job entails continuous review and adapative management of the artificial reefs in their county. EIAs are required in many other countries (i.e. Mexico) and they are often posted to the internet. (for example http://www.artificialreefs.org/ScientificReports/meridaenvironmentalimpact/MIAarrecifes.htm). EIAs, unfortunately, add a tremendous amount of cost to projects, and really are only feasible for large artificial reef projects where impacts are expected to be great (for example when sinking a huge ship in the Keys). Using best practices and sound judgement, artificial reef professionals can safely avoid the formal EIA process for smaller well defined projects (for example, adding a proven reef material to an existing artificial reef).
I agree that the post larval stage is critical, it is for this that preditor exclusion devices can be used to increase juvinile fish survival rates....once fish make to to 2 cm-3 cm or so, the survival rates are much higher. Dr. Robin Sherman from NOVA Southeastern University did a nice study on this using artificial reefs with the exclusion devices.
I also agree 100% that any artificial reef that is "packed with fish" is an artificial reef that has not been designed very well. Our Foundation has developed the philosopy that artificial reefs function best when the have the same species diversity and same population densities is do natural reefs nearby. We would personally judge our reefs to be ill functioning if we saw thousands of fish on them an only a few on the natural reefs. (Another reason why I think many artificial reefs that were built primarily for diving or as huge FADs for fishermen...mostly the very high profile artificial reefs...are not a good thing from an environmental perspective). And you are right again, if fishing is easier/more productive on artificial reefs than natural reefs....you won't see a claim from me that you don't have the potential to do fish stock damage without adequate rules and enforcement.
I would have to conclude that Artificial Reefs are powerful tools....and therefore have the ability to general powerful results...both good and bad. And I am behind you 100% in the notion that we should use the latest available technology and science when it comes to decisions about when and how to use artificial reefs.
To quote an AR coordinator friend of mine...."The great thing about artificial reefs is that they work, the problem with artificial reefs is that they work!"
----- Original Message -----
From: John McManus
To: 'Todd Barber' ; coral-list at aoml.noaa.gov
Cc: 'kathy kirbo'
Sent: Monday, March 08, 2004 11:04 AM
Subject: RE: Artificial Reefs-Response again (long, sorry!)
Although my note was not specifically targeted at Reef Balls, I am delighted that you have responded to the challenges of the criteria I mentioned.
I would not, of course, be entirely convinced that the Reef Ball complexes are meeting the criteria until I saw the statistics to back up the claims. Artificial reefs are human interventions, and should be put in only after environmental impact assessments. Those should include quantitative assessments of the local state of fishing, projections of the impacts of fishing on the artificial reefs on the local stocks, analyses of potential damage during storms, certifications of lack of toxins, the potentials of the artificial reefs to disrupt traditional fishing practices, and so forth. The EIAs should be posted on the Internet and available for comment before approval. Naturally, the EIAs should be tied to a periodic review process and adaptive management.
Note that some form of prior study is usually required within the US. However, for some reason, the fish stock assessment sides have often been severely lacking (again, for ARs in general, including old ships, busses and trolley cars).
Of course, while you are correct about the high mortality in the egg stage, the mortality between larvae and juvenile is still very high, and does not begin to taper off from a rapid to a reasonable descent for most reef fish until a few months post settlement (alas, it is hard to put the graph into an email).
It is also important to keep in mind that no reef can be considered to be healthy and resilient if the fish community is not healthy and resilient. There is increasing evidence that a reef with a disrupted food web is likely to be far more sensitive to nutrient loading than an intact one (nutrients in a healthy reef tend to be channeled up through the food web instead of remaining at the primary production level). Thus, if a human intervention enhances overfishing, there is never going to be a way to justify the intervention in terms of making the reef healthier, no matter how much biomass one generates or how many other species are enhanced.
As for the likelihood of the ARs adding to fishing success, if I were a person trying to make a living by fishing, and I knew of an artificial reef packed with fish, I know exactly where I would go fishing. The reason, of course, is that I would catch more fish per unit effort on the AR (note that ARs have led to serious conflicts in some areas, as they often disrupt traditional fishing patterns and rights). Increasing catch per unit effort in an overfished situation is exactly what should be avoided. So, if a government is going to permit the deployment of an artificial reef in its waters, and there is an overfishing problem (as there is in at least 70% of the world), then it should ensure that fishing is limited or banned on the AR. If a ban is not to be selected, then the levels of limits should be based on quantitative stock analyses. In many cases, FAO, recommends that fishing effort be targeted at the Maximum Economic Yield Point. This can be estimated in many fisheries by many available methods. Of course, fishing should be similarly limited everywhere, but obviously putting in something that attracts fish is going to make it easier to catch them, and thus greatly increases the need for the regulation.
So, coastal management is a complicated business, and artificial reefs are part of either the problem or the solution. Putting them in without careful prior analyses and compensatory coastal management strategies, particularly with regard to the local fishing situation, will usually result in their being part of the problem.
If you have an EIA that includes the appropriate fishery analyses, I would enjoy reading through it. However, in the case of the recent large AR complex, I would also hope to see a thorough analysis of some other factors, such as an analysis of local potential storm wave spectra and lift potentials relative to the Reef Balls, even with the extra weighting you described. I have seen solid concrete blocks the size of a double bed shift around and do substantial damage even at 60 feet during storms.
I would prefer to discuss ARs in general and not go into specific cases (such as Reef Balls) on coral list, but will provide more specific analyses and discussions if needed. Perhaps to show that ARs are not the only good thing with potentially bad effects, someone will start up a thread about mariculture on reef flats. Almost everything one does in coastal management has pros and cons, and these must always be dealt with.
John W. McManus, PhD
Director, National Center for Caribbean Coral Reef Research (NCORE)
Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (RSMAS)
University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway
Miami, Florida 33149.
jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu
Tel. (305) 361-4814
Fax (305) 361-4910
From: Todd Barber [mailto:reefball at reefball.com]
Sent: Monday, March 08, 2004 9:29 AM
To: coral-list at aoml.noaa.gov; jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu
Cc: kathy kirbo
Subject: Artificial Reefs-Response from Todd Barber
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)
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