Artificial reefs are used extensively around the world to create fish habitat, and new high quality fishing opportunities for anglers. NSW DPI has deployed specially designed artificial reefs in both estuarine and offshore waters aimed at providing new high quality fishing opportunities for recreational fishers.
Artificial Reef Locations
The artificial reefs are proving very popular with fishers with high visitation rates and exciting catches being reported. Please read the artificial reef 'User Guide' and be conscious of other reef users at all time.
New Recreational Fishing Reef projects
Reef 4: Port Botany offshore artificial reef
Reef 5: The Hon Niall Blair MLC, Minister for Primary Industries, recently announced in June 2015 that a fifth artificial reef will be built off the coast of NSW. DPI will begin planning of the new reef soon. If you have any comments on the location of offshore artificial reef, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call DPI on (02) 6691 9673.
Science on the reefs
DPI has a long term monitoring program around the artificial reefs. Fish have been shown to rapidly colonise the reefs with 49 species of fish identified on the Sydney OAR reef just 3 years after its deployment. Popular species such as yellowtail kingfish, snapper and mulloway are now regularly found around the structure. Fishers are using the reefs in increasing numbers each year following their deployment.
Sydney Offshore Artificial Reef being deployed in October 2011. The reef unit is the first Australian designed artificial reef and is the largest purpose built individual artificial reef structure. Made from steel, the reef weighs over 40 tonnes, stands 12m at its highest point and has a volume of over 700m3.
Yellowtail kingfish schooling around the towers of the Sydney OAR in April 2014.
The deployment of the Shoalhaven offshore artificial reef in January 2015.
The 20 specially designed artificial reef modules made from reinforced concrete were used to create the reef. Each module stands 5 metres tall and weighs over 23 tonne. The modules will collectively form a complex reef system with large caves, crevices and vertical relief to suit a wide range of fish species with a reef volume of 1600m3.
Artificial reefs, some over 6 hectares in size, have been deployed in a number of estuaries using purpose-built concrete modules
Schooling yellowfin bream in the St Georges Basin artificial reef 15 months after the reef deployment
Why not use car tyres and other 'junk' to build artificial reefs?
The artificial 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.