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.
Recfishwest was part of a delegation sent to South Korea, the experts in artificial reef design, to determine the best structure and materials to use in order to maximise production. Reefs are required to be of a certain volume in order to ensure they became habitat production devices, rather than simply drawing fish from other areas. Recfishwest undertook a significant consultation process with local fishers to select the best locations, with locations chosen based on strict environmental parameters such as water currents, depth and bottom type.
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.
The two reef locations are within five kilometres of shore almost directly in line with existing boat ramps. These reefs will enable safe access for recreational fishers with small boats in Geographe Bay.
The structures will benefit the environment and local communities; complement Western Australia’s robust and adaptive fisheries’ management approach; and help ensure fish stocks remain sustainable.
Interested in how the reefs are going? Check out our Reef Vision project.