[Coral-List] Artificial Reefs

Robert Bourke rbourke at OCEANIT.COM
Thu Oct 17 20:11:45 EDT 2013

	I just successfully resisted the temptation to send out a blast to the coral list concerning artificial reefs - until your email came through.  Oh well, I 'll count this as a coffee break. Anyone who can take underwater photographs as terrific as you and Keoki, deserves a reply.

	Artificial reefs should be thought of as one of many mitigation tools to be used to either offset adverse impacts or just improve existing ecosystem conditions in the marine environment.  If you think of the environment as a doctor would think of a patient, you realize that the most important part of the job is diagnosing the problem.  This has to be done, and done correctly, before any treatment is considered.  A resource biologist who is 'against' artificial reefs, would be like a doctor who is 'against' the use of plaster casts.  Sure, if I've got the flu, a bad cut, a headache, or kidney failure I don't want some idiot doctor putting me in a plaster cast, but if my arm is broken....
	It is the nature of our society that most developers will look for the least expensive solution to their own specific problem.  If selling the glamor of an 'artificial reef' to a permit regulator is the easiest (i.e. least expensive) pathway to a permit, then that will be the direction taken.     It is unfortunate that we, as resource biologists, don't seem to have sufficient knowledge to correctly diagnose most problems, and are even more limited in our ability to define appropriate solutions.  If I've got a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.  If I've got a design for a proprietary artificial reef.......
	In the case of Dennis Hubbard's reef, he is obviously upset at coastal developers (can't blame him), but it sounds like the reef he designed was both appropriate and demonstratively effective.  No, we should not be advocating the use of artificial reefs (or any other mitigation) that allows developers to misappropriate ecosystem services.  But when harm has been done by accident (as in Dennis' example) or intentionally (as in dredging the harbor so my boat doesn't go aground on the reef), then we have the responsibility to try to compensate for the damage done to the ecosystem.
	In Hawaii there are vast areas with little benthic relief, no physical substrate to form the basis of a diverse habitat.  But we need to be cautious that the designs offered do indeed represent stable habitat - and not merely fish aggregation devices that will blow away with the next set of big waves.  In a recent letter to the editor our own Jack Randall offered advice to future stewards of Hawaii's marine ecosystem - - - build more artificial reefs.    Given an appropriate diagnoses of the problem, location, and design, I'm with him.

Bob Bourke
Environmental Scientist

-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov [mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Yuko Stender
Sent: Thursday, October 17, 2013 9:12 AM
To: Rachel D'Silva
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Artificial Reefs

Hi Rachel,

I am currently working with coastal engineers who are interested in designing a multipurpose reef.
I came across papers/studies discussing ecological perspectives on coastal defense structures and their roles on benthic community development in Mediterranean and Arabian Sea.
I will send you a list of these if you are interested in.
I find Dennis's experience very interesting and agree with a point he made.  Reef community development is complex and influenced by a number of factors.  Community responses are depended on various temporal and spatial scales and these may differ at each proposed site.  As far as I understand, a number of studies are still limited for evaluating a design and ecological roles of engineered large coastal structures as a multipurpose reef in long-term.

Yuko Stender
Graduate student
University of Hawaii at Manoa

On Tue, Oct 1, 2013 at 9:54 AM, Rachel D'Silva <rachdsilva at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Hey Coral List,
> I'm looking for articles/papers with design and engineering options 
> for major functioning breakwaters (shallow) combined with reef 
> restoration. I like the idea of sections of the breakwater having a 
> design component that can be head started with coral fragments as well 
> as functioning as a potential dive/snorkel site. The standard designs 
> and structures will function as FADs...but in over fished waters.. this really isnt enough.
> I really appreciate any ideas/info you might have.
> Rachel
> 'Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to 
> get better. It's not'.- The Lorax
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