Artificial reefs have been used extensively around the world to create fish habitat, regenerate damaged ecosystems and to enhance angler catch. Artificial reefs have traditionally been constructed out of waste materials such as car tyres and sunken ships. The use of such materials is no longer considered acceptable for a number of reasons including cost, pollution potential, biological effectiveness and long-term stability in the marine environment. A number of countries world-wide, including Korea, Japan and the USA have developed a variety of purposely designed artificial reef materials that substantially increase the cost-effectiveness, longevity and biological suitability of modern artificial reefs and greatly improve the environmental outcomes.
The DPI NSW Artificial Reefs project is a major part of the Recreational Fisheries Enhancement Program and is made up of two separate components, Estuarine Artificial Reefs (EARs) and Offshore Artificial Reefs (OARs).
Why not use car tyres and other ‘junk’ to build recreational fishing reefs?
The recreational fishing reefs are of a complex design to create intricate habitat for a variety of fish species, which will remain productive for decades. DPI has to follow strict environmental standards and ‘junk’ such as tyres or containers are not an acceptable reef building material as they are polluting, non-stable or both.
In fact, the use of discarded ‘junk’ for the purpose of building reefs has long been banned in many countries as they have fallen short of meeting the most basic objective of artificial reefs: an increase in fish numbers. Another downside is that 'junk' reefs can often pollute surrounding environments as they break down. They are also not designed to withstand large storm events and ‘junk’ reefs have physically damaged adjacent natural reefs as they have broken apart, shifting sometimes many kilometres across the sea floor.
The expert design of NSW DPI’s offshore artificial reefs modules (steel or concrete) are designed to be non-polluting and have a minimum design-life of 30 years. In addition each module design used places emphasis on how the units deflect currents around them to create eddies and upwelling’s. The modules are also designed to provide shelter and protection for a wide range of fish and a stable base to which marine organisms can attach and grow. All artificial reef modules deployed by NSW DPI are designed to withstand 1 in 100 year storm events which, for example, off the Sydney coast can produce ocean swells in excess of 15m.
Offshore Recreational Fishing Reefs
In October 2011, DPI deployed the States first offshore recreational fishing reef to improve recreational fishing opportunities. The structure was deployed approximately 1.2 km east of ‘The Gap’ (South Head) in 38 m of water.
The reef was deigned and constructed using funds from the Recreational Fishing Trusts.
Offshore reef location maps and coordinates (WGS84)
Estuarine Artificial Reefs (EARs)
Estuarine reef location maps and coordinates
The Minister for Primary Industries has announced that the Department of Primary Industries will be deploying an offshore recreational fishing reef in the Shoalhaven area on the NSW south coast to increase recreational fishing opportunities. If you have any comments or would like additional information on the proposed recreational fishing reef, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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