In the two years since King Reef – Australia’s biggest artificial reef – was deployed off Exmouth, the local community and Recfiswest have watched with awe as it has developed into a flourishing fishing playground.
Red emperor, golden trevally, and even sailfish patrolling the topwater, are among the more than 100 species that now call the six steel reef towers and 49 mixed concrete reef modules home.
Being able to watch sensational footage of the reef’s evolution could only have been made possible by the countless hours our Reef Vision volunteers have put in deploying underwater video cameras on the reef, all in their own time.
Recfishwest Research Officer Steph Watts applauded their efforts and said fishers enjoying Exmouth’s quality fishing are reporting great catches on King Reef such as Spanish mackerel, trevally, tuna and queenies.
“The once-barren ocean floor has been revitalised into a thriving fishing oasis,” Steph said.
“Exmouth locals, and the town’s many visitors too, are having an awesome time fishing the reef, which can easily be reached by a small tinnie.
“The Reef Vision citizen science program helps us monitor all of our reefs to better understand how the different species are using the reef and how much fish biomass is on each reef.
“We’ve sifted through hours of underwater footage that our 30 keen Exmouth Reef Vision volunteers have recently recorded at King Reef and it’s too good not to share.”
WATCH: This is too good not to watch
From red emperor to estuary cod and coral trout, this vision gives Recfishwest insight into the many sought-after recfishing species which inhabit King Reef.
Its rapid success in two short years illustrates how structures like this can create sensational habitat for many fish species, and provide sensational fishing that is accessible to everyone.
King Reef is a dramatic example of how artificial reefs can increase fish abundance, boost tourism in regional areas, are environment-friendly and, most importantly, provide more places to go fishing.
On behalf of Recfishwest, Steph thanked BHP for their support of the King Reef project and Reef Vision program.
“Recfishwest also gives a shoutout to Exmouth Game Fishing Club, Exmouth Tackle and Camping, Tackleworld Exmouth, Exmouth Volunteer Marine Rescue, Ningaloo Car and Boat Hire and Exmouth Men’s Shed for helping us collect this important footage,” she said.
Six in the water and more to come
With six reefs already deployed extending from Esperance to Exmouth and three more reefs in the pipeline for Ocean Reef in Perth’s north, Carnarvon and Albany, there is plenty of opportunity to drop a line on one of these reefs.
In addition, other opportunities are potentially opening up to transform North West underwater infrastructure into artificial reef complexes.
“Our reefing knowledge is evolving with every one of these projects we deliver, because the better we fine tune the process the better the fishing opportunities will be for our community,” Steph said.
“The prospect of tapping into the North West’s existing offshore infrastructure means we are really entering into an exciting new frontier for artificial reefs and fishing, paving the way for WA, and potentially the country.
“So much is on the horizon in the artificial reef space and we are certainly excited to see what the future holds.
“Given the success of our reefing developments, the Recfishwest team can’t wait to see what fish are on our existing and future reefs next.”
Keep snapping photos of your catch 📸
In addition to the great footage collected by Reef Vision, Recfishwest wants to continue to gather overwhelming evidence of fish abundance at King Reef — and we need your help!
Photographic evidence of the different fish species caught at the reef helps determine how well its faring. So, keep sharing photos of your catches at King Reef with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or tagging @recfishwest and #recfishwest on Instagram and Facebook!