Port Hedland community excited by potential artificial reef prospect

Port Hedland’s avid fishing community is buzzing with the prospect of an artificial reef potentially being installed in the town’s coastal waters, creating new fish habitat and new fishing opportunities.

Recfishwest is currently working in partnership with BHP, in close consultation with the Port Hedland community, to explore the feasibility of an artificial reef off the Pilbara port town.

If progressed past the exploration phase, the Port Hedland artificial reef project will help provide exciting new and safe fishing opportunities for the local community and draw other fishers to the region.

Artificial reefs create awesome fish habitats, as shown in the Reef Vision shot of King Reef, Exmouth.

To date, seven artificial reefs have been installed throughout WA stretching from Esperance to Exmouth and have proven very popular with recfishers and local communities.

Recfishwest is leading the permitting and approvals process for the project in partnership with BHP and Australia’s leading reef engineering specialists, Subcon.

BHP has a well-established record in the artificial reef space, having partnered with Recfishwest, the State Government and the local community to deliver Exmouth’s King Reef deployed in 2018.

Consultation has been undertaken with local fishers to establish their preferred location for the reef’s deployment.

Once permits are granted, funding for the construction and installation of the reef will be sought – with a provisional expected time of deployment of the reef in late 2022.

Hedland-resident and North West Spearfishing Club member Robbie Peck says an artificial reef off Port Hedland would be a “dream come true”.

Hedland-resident and North West Spearfishing Club member Robbie Peck said an artificial reef off Port Hedland would provide enormous benefits not just to the town’s fishers but to the community as a whole.

“Many of us have been dreaming about having our own artificial reef for a number of years now having seen all the other artificial reefs that have been deployed in other parts of the State,” he said.

“Port Hedland has thinly distributed reef clusters with large areas of featureless ground, meaning that the good fish habitat tends to receive targeted fishing pressure.

“Having the new fish habitat would help create more fish abundance and some great new fishing experiences.

“The outdoor lifestyle is a huge part of living in the Pilbara and fishing is at the heart of Hedland. Having our own reef would help make it a more desirable location to live and visit bringing economic benefits to the town as well as fishing ones.”

Coral trout could possibly be caught at an artificial reef based off Port Hedland.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said it “had been great to see the enthusiasm with which the community has embraced the concept of an artificial reef off Port Hedland”.

“Artificial reefs are a great way to create fish abundance through creating productive new fish habitat and great new fishing experiences for the community,” he said.

“We welcome being able to work with BHP again on an artificial reef project – their input to the Exmouth King Reef Project helped make it an outstanding success.

“We look forward to seeing this project progress and this exploratory phase is certainly a huge step forward in turning the dream of Port Hedland’s very own artificial reef into a reality.”