The benefits of artificial reefs are recognised around the world and these purpose-built structures are expected to be a boon for the environment and local communities. Artificial reefs in WA will complement Western Australia’s robust and adaptive fisheries management approach ensuring fish stocks remain sustainable.
It has now been two and a half years since 60 ten tonne 3m3 concrete purpose-built modules were deployed to make the South West Artificial Reef Trial, two artificial reefs off the coasts of Bunbury and Dunsborough. The reef is increasingly providing social and economic benefits to local communities in Geographe Bay while also increasing safe fishing experiences and opportunities in the bay.
Biodiversity is also flourishing on the artificial reefs with significant marine growth on many of the modules including macro algae and some corals and diverse and dense fish communities. A recent survey completed by the Department of Fisheries has found that the number of fish species have more than quadrupled in two years with over 50 species of fish being recorded around the modules. These fish included many popular target species such as Samson Fish, Dhufish, Pink Snapper, Baldchin Groper and Boarfish.
Artificial Reef Towers
Fishing for Perth metro pelagics has a new breath of new life with the instalment of two steel reef towers, which will boost fishing opportunities for fishers. The towers are an addition to the numerous other artificial reef and habitat enhancement projects complete or underway in WA, funded through recreational fishing licence fees.
The reef towers differ from the concrete reef modules currently installed off Dunsborough, Bunbury and Mandurah and those planned for deployment in Esperance, Exmouth and Dampier. The towers are the first steel artificial reef structures in WA, with a different layout and construction to the demersal reefs, and on a much larger vertical scale. Designed by Western Australian artificial reef specialists, Subcon, the purpose built reefs are an impressive 12.5m high or the same size as a four storey building!
For more on the Artificial Reef Towers and their location, click here.
South West Artificial Reefs
In January of 2013 the first purpose-built artificial reef in Western Australia was unveiled by the Minister for Fisheries. The $2.38 million investment saw the establishment the State’s first artificial reef trial on the South West coast off Bunbury and Dunsborough, with an aim to increase habitat for key fish species. Royalties for Regions program funding and $520,000 from recreational licencing revenue enabled the artificial reef initiative to come to fruition.
The reef modules are designed to create upwelling’s bringing nutrient rich water from the sea floor to the surface creating phytoplankton and zooplankton blooms. These booms provide the basis for productive food chains and Recfishwest believes artificial reefs have the potential to create new habitat and nursery areas. This will increase productivity in local waters and provide enhanced fishing opportunities for species such as Skippy, Snapper and Samson Fish.
For more on the South West Artificial Reefs plus their location, click here.
Mandurah Artificial Reef
The Mandurah artificial reef was deployed off the coast of Mandurah in April 2016. The Mandurah artificial reef is constructed out of the same purpose-built modules as the South West Artificial Reefs. Being deployed at a similar depth as the South West Reefs, the new reef will share a similar level of success. The modules were deployed by a crane barge around 9km from Dawesville Cut and 1km from Five Fathom Bank in a depth range of 24-28m.
For more on the Mandurah Artificial Reefs, click here.