Get ready for some metro pelagic fishing this Summer at the new Fish Towers! Two new exciting Fish Towers will be deployed this summer in the metropolitan region, funded through recreational fishing licence fees, creating exciting brand new fishing opportunities. The Fish Towers add to the continued development of artificial reefs in WA, joining the highly successful artificial reefs off the coasts of Dunsborough, Bunbury and Mandurah. The towers will be the first steel artificial reefs deployed in WA, with a different layout and construction material, on a much larger scale than the artificial reefs further south.
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! To add to its height, each reef weighs a massive 50 ton and is 10m long and 7.8m wide. The costly process of reef deployment at sea has also been reduced through a new innovative technique that has never been used with this style of artificial reef anywhere in the world. Instead of being loaded onto a barge and deployed using a crane, the large structure will be towed out into position and its buoyancy tanks will be flooded to safely and cost effectively sink the towers.
The fish towers have been specially designed for both pelagic and demersal fish species. The lattice-like steel upper part of the reef will concentrate small baitfish such as Yellowtail Scad, Bullseye, Pike and small Trevally, making the reef a perfect location for predatory pelagics. As well as this, the large area, vertical profile and differing types and shapes of the bottom part of the structure make it an ideal home for demersal species. The reasons that the towers make such a perfect homes for these fish species comes from their purpose built design.
The steel lattice provides shelter for baitfish from pelagic predators (which attracts these predators to the tower) while the structures’ complex habitat provides variation in temperature, shade and hydrological effects such as current, to favour a variety of different species and higher abundances of fish. The curved steel plates on the fish tower promote upwelling and the surfaces of the structure can be colonised by macro-algae, sponges and corals, both of these factors provide a boost to the food chain and increase the productivity of the reef, further increasing the number and variety of target species.
Pelagic species such as Samson Fish, Yellowtail Kingfish, Salmon, Spanish Mackerel and Tuna species could all be expected at the reef as well as demersal species such as Pink Snapper, Dhufish and Baldchin Groper. Other species that could be caught in the area around the reef include, King George Whiting, Flathead, Flounder and even Mulloway! While all the mentioned species are expected on the reefs (and have been observed on the artificial reefs further south) other fish may also turn up in the proposed deployment area including Yellowfin Tuna, Amberjack and Bonito.
(Nick Jones with a nice Pink Snapper from the Dunsborough Artificial Reef.)
The reefs were funded using recreational fishing licence fees and are there for all fishers to enjoy. Anchoring right on top of reefs should be avoided as it will limit the benefit they can have to all fishers and limit the chances of your anchor returning. As is the case with the South West Artificial Reefs, some of the best fish are caught around the structure, not right on top of it. Fish can be targeted by trolling around the area and over the top of the reef as well as drifting near the reef location or by drifting weighted mulies in a burley trail.
(Samson Fish chasing a camera at South West Artificial Reefs)
The exact locations are yet to be confirmed, but will be announced by Recfishwest in due course. It is expected they will be located between Rottnest and Garden islands and installation of the structures will begin this summer. With huge projects like this, WA is showing the world what can be achieved by passionate fishers who believe in enjoyable, safe, sustainable and accessible fishing experiences for the WA community in the future.