Cooper Reef A Reality

Last week marked a very special occasion for the community of Esperance as their long-held dream of an artificial reef close to town has been realised.

Cooper Reef, named after local community champion Graham Cooper was deployed!

Watch the video below to see some deployment footage from last week.

Who is Graham?

Graham is an inaugural member of the Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club and is one of the driving forces to getting a new reef for his communit

Graham is an inaugural member of the Esperance Deep Sea Angling Club and is one of the driving forces to getting a new reef for his community.

Graham has also played a huge role in the fishing safety space by educating almost 10,000 school students on the south coast about fishing safety over the last decade. Graham has also been instrumental in leading fishing safety initiatives in Esperance, Ravensthorpe and Hopeton by pushing for public safety equipment, such as Angel Rings, Rock Anchor Points, to be installed at high risk fishing locations along the south coast.

Graham is also a Recfishwest lifejacket ambassador for our Fish and Survive campaign. Graham remains the Chairperson of the South East Coast Recreational Fishing Council and still enjoys fishing for demersal species around the islands after many years.

We’re proud to have been a part of this project from the beginning, however full credit must go to the tireless team of local volunteers who made this vision a reality.

Read about the local story in the Esperance Express here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The exact location can be viewed here (and seen below) and more about artificial reefs in Western Australia is available on our website.

 

To read more about the construction process and see the first initial video, click here.

Fish Towers to be deployed this summer

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 tonne 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.

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.

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.

Pelagic Paradise Deployed Off Perth

In the October 2016 edition of Recfishwest’s Broad Cast we shared an article on the reef towers set to be installed off the Perth coast this summer. Well the news is good and the deployment is running ahead of schedule with one of the towers being installed on December 21, with the second set to be deployed late December.

Fishing for Perth metro pelagics is set for a breath of new life with the instalment of two steel reef towers, which will boost fishing opportunities for fishers over the summer months.   The towers will be an addition to the numerous other artificial reef and habitat enhancement projects complete or underway in WA, funded through recreational fishing licence fees.

The reef towers differ from the concrete reef frameworks currently installed off Dunsborough, Bunbury and Mandurah and those planned for deployment in Esperance, Exmouth and Dampier. The towers are the first steel artificial reef structures, with a different layout and construction to the demersal reefs, and on a much larger vertical scale.  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 70 tonne 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 lowered using a crane, the large structure is being towed out into position and its buoyancy tanks will be flooded to safely and cost effectively sink the towers.

The reef towers have been specifically designed to not only house demersal fish species but namely to attract an array of pelagic top-water fish in a similar way to FADs. The lattice-like steel upper part of the reef will provide structure and concentrate small baitfish, attracting predatory pelagics. The purpose built design will also allow demersal species to shelter amongst the large base structure with its various shapes, crevasses and vertical profile.

The steel lattice structure provides a complex habitat with variations in temperature, shade and hydrological effects such as current. The curved steel plates on the tower promote upwelling and the surfaces of the structure can be colonised by macro-algae, sponges and corals to favour a variety of different species and higher abundances of fish.

The wide range of habitats influenced by the reef towers will hold a good variety of fish species, with pelagics such as Samson Fish, Yellowtail Kingfish, Salmon, Spanish Mackerel and Tuna all expected to turn up at the reef as well as demersal species such as Pink Snapper, Dhufish and Baldchin Groper. There’s also a good chance of King George Whiting, Skippy, Flathead, Flounder and even Mulloway that are caught in the surrounding areas. All of these species have been encountered on the established South West artificial reefs but other species such as Yellowfin Tuna and Bonito are also expected to make an appearance.

The reef towers were funded using recreational fishing licence fees and are for all recreational 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 the chances of your anchor returning. Similar to 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 casting or trolling around the area and over the top of the reef as well as drifting near the reef location and jigging or drifting weighed baits in a burley trail.

The reef towers will be located in “the paddock” between Garden Island and Rottnest Island, see map below for coordinates. 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.

This project was made possible by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and supported by Recfishwest and the WA Department of Fisheries.

 

Artificial Reefs Highlights New Fishing Projects for WA

More Artificial Reefs Highlights New Fishing Projects for WA
– Nine new projects funded from recreational fishing licence money
– New artificial reefs for Exmouth and Esperance plus funding towards an artificial reef for Dampier

Fisheries Minister, Joe Francis, today announced nine new fishing projects funded from recreational fishing licence money through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF). These projects include nearshore artificial reefs to benefit the regional communities of Exmouth and Esperance.  Exmouth and Esperance are set to join Mandurah, Bunbury and Dunsborough as WA’s regional towns to receive an artificial reef. These reefs will provide safe accessible fishing for families in small boats.

The Minister also approved one-third of the funding required for a large offshore artificial reef in Dampier. This funding will allow The City of Karratha to leverage the remaining funding required to see this project come to fruition.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland was thrilled with the announcement by the government which helps ensure WA communities have enjoyable fishing experiences forever.
“The Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF) has provided our great state with over $7million of fishing projects that benefit WA fishers while having additional tangible outcomes for fish habitats, the environment and research,” Dr Rowland said.

“We ask WA fishers where they want their licence money spent and artificial reefs continually come out towards the top of the list. Recfishwest will continue to work hard to provide projects like these that improve people’s fishing experience.”
These reefs provide quality fish habitat in areas where people would normally need to travel excessive distances or venture into rough waters.”
“A lot of people are now seeing the great fishing on the existing South West and Mandurah artificial reefs and if we can transfer those great fishing experiences to other regional hubs state-wide, it will be a huge boost for localised tourism as well as a win for fish habitats.


Other projects announced in this RFIF round included:
– A WA first, Blue Swimmer Crab stocking project
– A project to Determine Economic Value of Recreational Fishing in WA
– An extension of the existing Oyster Reef trial in Albany
– A Threadfin Salmon tagging project in Roebuck Bay, involving local fishers
– Fisher deployed shark bite off video survey
– Continued support for Fishability in WA (Fishers with Disabilities)
– A Community project to connect fishing clubs with their communities’

See a project that interests you? Please get in contact with us and we can tell you more.
ENDS
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Fact File:
– The Recreational Fishing Initiative Fund has invested millions of dollars back into rec fishing projects since 2012.
– Purpose built artificial reef structures feature a strong reinforced concrete framework which provides a hard substrate for reef-building organisms and algae to settle on as well as protective structure for fish to hide from predators and aggregate around.
– Artificial reef installations at the other south-west locations (Mandurah, Bunbury, Dunsborough) have already started to see some great results. Check them out here: https://recfishwest.org.au/artificial-reefs/
– This project was made possible by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and supported by Recfishwest and the WA Department of Fisheries.