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ARTIFICIAL REEFS AND THEIR
PLACEMENT
People are destroying coral reefs and other
important fish habitats at an unprecedented
rate. Destructive fishing practices and
pollution are the two main causes. While
many NGOs are very actively trying to
convince the worlds politicians to take action
to prevent harmful pra ctices, practical actions
are also being undertaken by many local
com munities.
As coral reefs are destroyed the comm unities
living in the coastal area suffer f irst from
depletion of fish stocks. The shorelines,
where their houses and businesses are and
where boats are moored, also suffer, as they
are no longer protected from the sea by the
reef. Once a com munity has felt the effects
of the loss of the reef , they may decide to take
action.
One part of a solution could be for the
com munity to build artificial reefs. It takes many, many years for the coral that ma kes up the
structure of a reef to grow. Artificial reefs (ARs) have a long tradition in many parts of the
world. In recent years, however, the use of modern materials has greatly increased their
potential. For example the use of purpose-built building blocks called modules, constructed
from cem ent, plastics, and steel, has enabled the construction of relatively large structures
using simple techniques (see examp les below).
Their use has advantages and disadvantages.
They can be very valuable in repairing
damag ed reefs and re-establishing reefs that
have been destroyed, but only if the reefs are
to be used as nurseries or sanctuaries, or if
they are to be fished using traditional
me thods. If entirely new reefs are being
created in areas that are already over-fished,
they may exacerbate the pr oblem by drawing
fish to the new reef, where they are more
easily caught. Reefs should also be built with
materials that will not contaminate the area if
they are disturbed or break down.
For the artificial reefs to contribute to
sustainable fisheries in the longer term , it is
important that the fishing comm unities are
involved in all steps of the decision-making and developm ent processes. They should
participate in the selection of the reefs sites, the choice of materials, the managem ent and
mo nitoring of the reefs, and in their evaluation. It must be the communitys decision to proceed
(or not) at each stage of the process.
After the community has agreed to go ahead, there are two ma in phases to creating the
artificial reef: construction, and placem ent.
Ferro-cement and
coir
Pipes (keep the
ends open)
Mixing (e.g. coconut
stumps boulders and well
rings
Staking
Dispersed
Clustered