[Coral-List] Artificial reefs

Iain Macdonald dr_iamacdonald at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Mar 30 00:15:28 EST 2004

Dear Listers,

I have followed the artificial reef (AR) thread for the past few days. I will try not to repeat any previous comments but add to the over debate by highlighting important details that I think have be overlooked. Firstly I fell I should elaborate on my position and dealings with artificial reefs. I may soon be working to develop a large AR, so I naturally went away and read every book, paper and report on the subject I could lay my hands on. What I realized was that there where many ARs out there that were placed without adequate knowledge of what is out there naturally, and these ARs were generally covering small areas <250m2. Most of the information available is not peer reviewed and only found on the internet. There were very little in the way of guide lines for what to do before, during and “removal/decommissioning” of the AR. Another issue I noted was the lack of general marine ecological principles that a lot of people dealing with artificial reefs seemed to have. The “fact”
 that a concrete structure imitating a small section of reef could last hundreds of years seems absurd, given that similar real reef structures that are non-living are subjected to rapid bioerosion and physical/chemical erosion and or burial. For example the reefs local to my present location deteriorate within a few decades (Reigl 2002). As a portal for the coral reef researchers I think it is high time that we collectively put together some literature / guidelines for the use of ARs. I realize the scope for this is large but I earlier asked if there were any other coralisters keen on meeting in Japan at a satellite meeting on ARs. I had a good response and I think this may be a starting point for any consensus. Unfortunately, my presence in Japan seems unlikely due to contractual obligations I am however still keen to organise and develop this unofficial “working group”. Perhaps if successful we can organize a workshop through the appropriate bodies (e.g. UNESCO, IOC, ISRS etc.)
 that can expand the issues raised in the ICRS satellite meeting.

The issue I would particularly like to discuss is AR placement. I have only seen one adequate pre-deployment report Imagine for a second, some people with some money and limited know how regarding AR have heard that these ARs can help remediate damaged reefs. They want to construct the best AR that they can. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent to the AIMS publication English et al. Survey Manual for Tropic

.. Although there are several good books on the topic what should be the basics of AR seem to be ignored the world over (I am eagerly awaiting Bill Prechts book!). Where I am based, ARs (concrete blocks/balls, metal piping/frames/cars/buses and boats etc.) have been placed in the sea by numerous organizations (industrial / recreational / academic) with limited pre-deployment surveys and poor post-deployment surveys. Things are slowly improving but there is an urgent need for the dissemination of information on the best practices. 

There are also the international treaties and laws to be taken into account (if interested see my next email). I hope this email conversation continues and that something constructive can be assembled from the various correspondences. I know I have picked up a few good points from various people. Regards,


Iain Macd. 

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