[Coral-List] Responding to enthusiastic local stakeholders wanting to set up local artificial reefs. . .?

Chad Scott marineconservationkt at gmail.com
Sat Jun 22 00:38:14 EDT 2013

Dear Chloe and Dr. Shimrit,

Just to expand on your comments, there are places that have constructed
alternative dive sites, mostly in the form of wrecks, but also in some
cases sites specifically designed for diver training. On the island of Koh
Tao, Thailand, dive centers working together through the Save Koh Tao
Community Group and the Thai Department of Marine and Coastal Resources
have constructed two such sites. We have not however published any
scientific papers on the sites, but I have had a student write a thesis on
the use of the sites. available here:

We have constructed the sites using the 'ferro cement' technique, first
making structures out of steel rebar and chicken wire and then covering in
layers of cement, including:
-Artificial structures focused on coral recruitment or transplanting
-Fish habitat/nurseries
-Buoyancy and Diver training aids
-Sculptures and art

The goal of the project was to create alternative dive sites that would
relieve diving related pressures on the natural reef, improve safety, and
increase novice divers buoyancy and self awareness skills with obstacles
not found naturally on the reef (Swim throughs, buoyancy rings, obstacle
courses, CESA lines, navigation markers, etc). The sites were placed in
areas with sandy bottoms, in close proximity (10-50 meters) to some of the
island's most popular/over-used dive sites.

The response from the visitors and professional divers on the island has
been very promising, and in the BSc. thesis paper by Nicols he found that
about 40% of the divers coming here spent at least some of their time at
our most popular alternative dive site, 'Buoyancy World.' For an island
that is only 21 square kilometers but sees over 400,000 tourists per year,
that is quite a significant impact. The response from most dive instructors
we have spoken with is that the site is effective for teaching
self-awareness and buoyancy to novice divers before venturing in the coral
reefs, and they would like to see more of them.

On a personal note, I feel that the dive industry in general needs to do
much more to protect the resources they utilize. Teaching divers in coral
reef areas is irresponsible and short-sighted, yet still persists in many
tropical areas around the globe. The construction of alternative dive sites
is one way  dive centers can reduce their damage on natural areas and also
increase the environmental awareness of visitors, telling them the reasons
why they are learning at a site made of concrete and not the natural reef.
Buoyancy World was built for less than 20,000 USD, yet receives as much as
50,000-100,000 dives per year, making clear economic sense as well.

I am sure that there are other locations that are doing similar projects,
and I hope that soon more research can be done on the environmental as well
as the socioeconomic impact of alternative dive sites. But also, there is a
lot of factors to consider before constructing such a project, and I would
not advise individuals or dive centers to attempt such projects without
proper research of the area, training, and permissions. There are many
examples of poorly thought out or constructed artificial reefs out there,
and I agree with you Chloe that Green Fins should probably not encourage
dive centers to undertake these projects on their own, but instead focus on
protective measures. It may be better to push for stronger community
involvement and scientific advising in the areas where dive schools have
heard about such projects and are now trying to do them on their own.

Good luck in your efforts,

Chad Scott
Director, New Heaven Reef Conservation

Project Coordinator, Save Koh Tao Marine

> ------------------------------
> Message: 2
> Date: Fri, 21 Jun 2013 08:09:31 +0300
> From: Shimrit Perkol-Finkel <shimrit at searc-consulting.com>
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Responding to enthusiastic local
>         stakeholders wanting to set up local artificial reefs - are there
> any
>         basic guidelines?
> To: info at greenfins.net
> Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Message-ID:
>         <
> CANmbTN7YmbVHTq7AW-D9eRWkRBcqi1YFR22b3cc0BBHH4oxkXw at mail.gmail.com>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252
> Dear Chloe,
> It seems from your email that you already have your answer... Indeed in
> designing artificial reefs there is no "One size fits all"... and many site
> specific and species specific considerations must be taken into account
> during the planning of an artificial reef. While there are several
> guidebooks out there on the subject that might facilitate the process, I
> support your approach of thinking hard before deploying new man-made
> structures into delicate natural systems that already suffering substantial
> decline.
> In case a certain area has sustained severe damage (from extreme weather
> events/trawling/mining/coastal development) and the 3D reef structure has
> been compromised or destroyed, creating an artificial reef to mitigate for
> the loss is indeed a good option. But if natural systems are generally in
> tact, new artificial reefs might cause more disturbance than benefit. You
> can read more about these aspect in Seaman's book: Artificial Reef
> Evaluation: With Application to Natural Marine Habitats.
> Specifically in regards to diving, the notion of a planned training park
> has been suggested (e.g., van Treeck P and Schuhmacher H (1998) Mass diving
> tourism ? A new dimension calls for new management approaches. Mar Poll
> Bull 37: 499-504) but to the best of my knowledge has never been executed.
> Such a concept could be beneficial for training divers (in the stages when
> they find balancing themselves underwater difficult) away from sensitive
> natural habitats.
> Hope this helps,
> Best
> --
> Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, Ph.D.
> SeArc
> Ecological marine consulting
> US mobile: 347 630 5805
> Mobile:+972 549 840850
> e-mail: shimrit at searc-consulting.com
> *www.searc-consulting.com *
> *www.econcretetech.com  <http://www.econcretetech.com/> *
> On Wed, Jun 19, 2013 at 12:07 PM, Green Fins <info at greenfins.net> wrote:
> > Hi All,
> >
> > I'm hoping you can help us. The Green Fins approach promotes sustainable
> > diving practices through the implementation of environmental standards.
> > Dive centres join Green Fins free of charge and receive training and
> > guidance on how to manage their businesses more sustainably. Throughout
> the
> > process, dive centres are encouraged to engage in local environmental
> > initiatives. Many of them are turning to the installation of artificial
> > reefs as they feel it will help to regenerate local reefs, create
> awareness
> > and lead to more dive sites.
> >
> > We do not want to discourage any enthusiastic behaviour shown by the
> > network, but as a general rule we promote activities which protect the
> > healthy coral reefs we still have over creating new ones / coral
> nurseries
> > and planting. We also understand that the effects of artificial reefs
> such
> > as coral buds e.t.c which are placed in close proximity to healthy coral
> > reef systems might have a negative impact on local reef health.
> >
> > I do understand that the complex nature of coral reefs makes it difficult
> > to have a one size fits all approach to artificial reefs. However, it
> would
> > be very useful for us if we could have some sort of recognised guideline
> > for artificial reefs - does anyone know of anything like this? If not,
> can
> > any of you refer me to a recognised specialist in this area whom we could
> > request a statement from in regards to the possible implications of
> setting
> > up artificial reefs without thorough site investigations.
> >
> > Thank you in advance for any help you can offer.
> >
> > Best wishes,
> > Chloe Hunt
> >
> > Green Fins International Coordinator
> > The Reef-World Foundation
> >
> > --
> > *Green Fins Coordinator*
> > *Join us on Facebook<
> > https://www.facebook.com/pages/Green-Fins/49257459509?ref=hl>
> > *
> > _______________________________________________
> > Coral-List mailing list
> > Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> > http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
> >
> --
> Shimrit Perkol-Finkel, Ph.D.
> SeArc
> Ecological marine consulting
> US mobile: 347 630 5805
> Mobile:+972 549 840850
> e-mail: shimrit at searc-consulting.com
> www.searc-consulting.com
> ------------------------------
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
> End of Coral-List Digest, Vol 58, Issue 14
> ******************************************

Chad Scott
Marine Project Coordinator


More information about the Coral-List mailing list