[Coral-List] Fw: Artifical Reefs

Justin Enjo jenjo2008 at my.fit.edu
Tue Nov 17 10:59:27 EST 2009


Your topic generated a great discussion, so likewise, I feel the need to
chime in from an engineer's perspective on an aspect of artificial reefs
that I have been involved with.

As a coastal engineer, I too question the merit and reliability of
artificial reefs.  Our industry, like ALL, is feeling the effects of climate
change and resource depletion.  Sand resources are dwindling (believe it or
not), costs of dredging and beach nourishment are increasing.  More species
are becoming endangered making mitigation more expensive and challenging.
 Monitoring and permitting costs are even making essential projects

We cannot continue down this path.  The only possible viable solution I have
seen, in my humble opinion, is near-shore multipurpose artificial reefs that
help to build a salient, limit intervals between dredging, and supply
essential habitat for corals and fishes, not to mention add
recreation amenities such as diving.  However there are of course drawbacks,
and a surprising environmental resistance.  The point is, as decisions
become tougher and tougher to make, no one wants to make them, and this
isn't in the hands of scientists and researchers anymore, this is the
responsibility of Environmental Agencies, local and state governments, and
the permitting agencies.

So in response to your email, "Do you have any ideas of whether or not
artificial reefs are more harmful than helpful?" is no longer a science
question.  It's a responsibility question. It's a policy question. When we
(science) can prove that the "help" out-weights the "harm," we need our
administrators and elected leaders to stand behind us and make the tough
decisions, and this extends well beyond the realm of just artificial reefs.


> ----- Forwarded Message ----
> *From:* Robert Bourke <rbourke at OCEANIT.COM>
> *To:* John McManus <jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu>; Kristen Nunn <
> kristennunn at gmail.com>; "Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> *Sent:* Mon, November 16, 2009 1:22:44 PM
> *Subject:* Re: [Coral-List] Artifical Reefs
> Hi Kristin;
>     Your question was good, in that it has obviously generated a bit of
> discussion on Coral-List, but it's phrasing definitely gives the impression
> that you're out looking for the "Dark Side" of artificial reef development.
> Of course there are going to be bad side effects from even the most well
> intentioned reef designs, but the same may be said of any professional
> attempt at managing our world.  Just because there are bad examples of
> forestry, surgery, law enforcement, and legal practice does not mean that
> our society should forego the practice or training foresters, doctors,
> police, or - uh - well, you get the idea.  The problem with artificial reef
> development is that it is such a new field that we really don't know a great
> deal about what we are doing (relative to similar land-based fields such as
> forestry).  Much of our experience comes from ad-hoc attempts that in
> hind-sight we now see as ill-conceived.  But such is the nature of
> learning.  The opportunity with artificia
> l reef development is that, given our experience and knowledge from other
> fields, we should know what questions to ask and how to ask them, so
> development of successful management strategies should take a relatively
> short period of time.  Assuming you are just entering this field, it is
> reasonable to expect that by the end of your professional career a good
> blueprint will have been created for the successful development of
> artificial reefs.  That's a fairly lofty accomplishment to which to aspire,
> so I suggest you get to work.
> Bob Bourke
> Environmental Scientist
> Oceanit
> -----Original Message-----
> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:
> coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of John McManus
> Sent: Sunday, November 15, 2009 10:19 AM
> To: 'Kristen Nunn'; Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Artifical Reefs
> Hi Kristin,
> We have had a lot of discussions about this in the past few years. You
> might
> want to check out the Coral-list archives.
> >From my standpoint, if you put in a structure that is non-polluting, does
> not fall apart, is not a menace to navigation, etc. and prevent it from
> being fished, then it may be more good than bad. That may be the case for
> improving snorkel and dive tourism in some areas (such as keeping tourist
> damage away from unusually sensitive reef areas).
> If one allows fishing, it is usually pretty easy to demonstrate
> mathematically that the benefits from providing new fish habitat are far
> outweighed by the detriment of the devices acting as fish attractors which
> exacerbate overfishing by gathering otherwise scattered fish together where
> they can be more easily caught.
> However, artificial reefs can also be used to close areas to trawl fishing
> by snagging the nets, as is done in South East Asia with old buses,
> concrete
> structures, etc. That is probably a good thing, where bottom trawling is
> the
> overwhelmingly dominant means of fishing. Bottom trawling is still the most
> habitat-destructive marine activity of mankind -- a systematic shaving away
> of vital sponge, calcareous algae, and coral patch communities across huge
> areas of the world's continental shelves.
> Of course, there are artificial reefs for the purpose of rejuvenating coral
> populations. As long as they have a low relief, they may not also be a
> concern from the fishing standpoint. However, once they are high enough off
> the bottom to significantly attract harvestable fish, then the fishing does
> become a concern. That would be similar to operating to save someone's
> kidneys, while at the same time destroying the liver.
> Similarly, artificial reefs for preventing beach erosion may or may not
> cluster fish together for easy harvesting, depending on their design and
> deployment.
> Fortunately, there are lots of coral planting and beach prevention reef
> operations that are relatively low relief, and some with high relief in
> areas where fishing is prohibited.
> Cheers!
> John
> John W. McManus, PhD
> Director, National Center for Coral Reef Research (NCORE)
> Professor, Marine Biology and Fisheries
> Coral Reef Ecology and Management Lab (CREM Lab)
> Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS)
> University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, 33149
> jmcmanus at rsmas.miami.edu      http://ncore.rsmas.miami.edu
> Phone: 305-421-4814  Fax: 305-421-4910
>   "If I cannot build it, I do not understand it."
>               --Richard Feynman, Nobel Laureate
> -----Original Message-----
> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Kristen Nunn
> Sent: Friday, November 13, 2009 6:06 PM
> To: Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: [Coral-List] Artifical Reefs
> Do you have any ideas of whether or not artificial reefs are more harmful
> than helpful?
> Thank you.
> Kristen
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