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.
Long-awaited metro reef gets the green light for early 2021, 7km off Ocean Reef;
First modules poured for Carnarvon Reef with consultation about to begin for Albany artificial reef;
Second year of FADs trial program about to launch in the bottom half of the State, including FADs going in off Geraldton.
Today, Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland joined the Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley at Subcon — Blue Solutions’ yard in Henderson to announce that the long-awaited north metro artificial reef has got the green light for deployment 7km off Ocean Reef in early 2021.
So, it’s not every day you get a new fishing spot given to you for free – but if you’ve got a boat and you fish in the metro area, get these coordinates in your plotter now!
This is the centre-point for the new north metro ‘array’ off Ocean Reef. To be based in 27m of water, the reef will be comprised of 292 purpose-designed concrete modules ranging in height from 0.7m to 1.8m and cover an area of 15ha – that’s a space roughly equivalent to four Optus Stadiums.
Constructed by Subcon — who have a strong track-record in artificial reef design and deployment across Australia — this will be the seventh artificial reef to be deployed across WA.
“Experience shows it won’t be long at all before the modules accumulate marine growth that will quickly begin to support new fish habitat,” Dr Rowland said.
“With species like pink snapper, yellowtail kingfish, Samson fish and skippy predicted to make the reef system home, it won’t be long either before the reef is creating safe and accessible, great new fishing opportunities for small boat owners.
“We know these structures evolve quickly as habitat through our Reef Vision program which sees hours of video footage collected by volunteers using underwater cameras dropped on artificial reefs capturing the structures’ development.”
Check out our latest Reef Vision footage from Exmouth’s King Reef at the two-year point in its development.
Recfishwest would have liked to have seen the north metro reef go in sooner than this, as there has been a great appetite for it from the local recfishing community – but securing Commonwealth environmental approvals for the reef was held up for a number of reasons including COVID.
“Nevertheless, we have got here and the deployment of the metro reef will mark a great start to 2021, as well as the beginning of the next chapter in the State-wide artificial reef program.
This exciting stage sees consultation beginning with the Albany community next month about their artificial reef project and the first Carnarvon artificial reef modules being poured.
Also, bubbling away in the background is research and discussions with oil and gas companies around the possibility of reefing some of their marine infrastructure on the North West artificial shelf which already holds a spectacular array of fish biomass and biodiversity as Fisheries Research and Development Corporation recently reported.
Meanwhile, Recfishwest are preparing to kick off the second year of our trial State-wide FADs program which, building on from the success and lessons learnt from last year’s run, will see FADs going in off the metro, Cape Naturaliste and Albany.
“I am also very pleased to let you know we will be deploying FADs off Geraldton this year, with the devices expected to be going in the water in December,” Dr Rowland said.
“We’ll be bringing you more details about the FADs deployment in the next couple of weeks – but just with artificial reefs and FADs alone, there are already some exciting fishing enhancing developments in the pipeline. We’re also working hard to deliver some other projects this summer too – so stay tuned and watch this space.”
Recfishwest puts the call out for artificial reef filming fisher volunteers
Recfishwest is casting out for red-hot keen boat fishers who want to be part of the the marine citizen science program, Reef Vision – the first of its kind in the world.
We’re looking for more volunteers to join the ever-growing and valuable Reef Vision team and help catch valuable footage of the state’s artificial reefs while out fishing.
The Reef Vision Program is made up of passionate fishers from the recreational fishing community who assist Recfishwest map and monitor the growth and development of these fish habitat-enhancement structures in Esperance, Dunsborough, Busselton, Mandurah and Exmouth.
The State’s artificial reefs program driven by Recfishwest, has been developed to provide great fishing opportunities relatively close to shore allowing small boat owners the chance to have better fishing experiences.
Each Reef Vision volunteer is given a BRUV (Baited Remote Underwater Video) camera, and training on how to set up, deploy and retrieve the equipment.
The volunteers drop the cameras near to the reef on their way to their fishing spot and record an hour of video footage of the artificial reefs. This footage is later analysed by Recfishwest, university researchers and students to see what fish are using the reefs and helping us to understand the benefits of artificial reefs and the fish that call them home.
To date, Reef Vision volunteers have collected hundreds of hours of valuable footage from the six artificial reefs monitored in the reef vision program identifying hundreds of different species including dhufish, Samson fish, baldchin groper, pink snapper and large schools of mulloway and red emperor, Rankin cod, queenfish and blue bone.
“I love my fishing here in WA and being part of Reef Vision gives me the chance to give something back. It’s also really cool to see what’s going on down there – there are some amazing things you see” said Reef Vision volunteer Garry Dyer.
Recfishwest’s Research Officer Steph Watts said, “We need to know what’s happening on these reefs, and it’s even more important that the volunteers are enjoying their time collecting the footage for us.
“They’re the backbone of Reef Vision, and we can’t thank them enough,”
Throughout our great State, there are many community groups and champions rolling up their sleeves to make fishing better in their local area.
One of those clubs is the Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club. The club has been recognised for their work on the Esperance Artificial Reef, named Cooper Reef in honour local stalwart Graham Cooper, who is helping lead the project.
The fantastic efforts were honoured on 29 June when Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club claimed the ‘Best Project’ award in the small clubs category of the Clubs WA Awards for Excellence.
Recfishwest attended the awards event with Graham and fellow club member Nigel Worth.
Part of what made the recognition extra special was the fact that many club members literally built the reef with their own hands when they helped to pour dozens of the 128 concrete modules that now make up the reef.
Artificial reefs from Esperance to Exmouth continue to provide great fishing experiences for local communities.
All of these projects were born out of dedicated local fishers who had a vision to improve fishing and the drive to make it happen.
Recfishwest are extremely proud to have been able to assist Graham and his team in delivering this exciting project for their local community.