Happy 5th anniversary to Exmouth’s King Reef – a thriving fish habitat just five years after placement on the seabed

Five years ago, all that was there was the barren sandy seabed. 

Today, the area is teeming with vibrant colour, exotic coral and hundreds of marine species, including an array of fish species like trevally, coral trout, cod and mangrove jack.  

What has caused this dramatic transformation? The deployment of the six large, repurposed steel structures and nearly 50 concrete purpose-built modules that makes up King Reef – the fastest developing artificial reef in Australia! 

This latest spectacular video footage by underwater photographer Violeta J. Brosig from Blue Media Exmouth captures the rich biodiversity that has grown on the reef and seen the number of fish species observed on the reef rise to more than 100.  

In 2018, a collaboration between Recfishwest, the Exmouth local community, DPIRD, BHP, NERA, Subcon and Curtin University resulted in King Reef – the first integrated artificial reef deployed in the southern hemisphere covering an area of 27,000m³ – roughly the area of five footy ovals.  

With ongoing support from Woodside Energy, the reef has rapidly transformed the area from an underwater desert into a marine oasis with coral trout, bluebone, spangled emperor, red emperor, mangrove jack, cod, Spanish mackerel and even sailfish seen patrolling around the reef.  

An array of species are now commonly sighted by locals and tourists, spicing up the fishing opportunities and species diversity throughout the Gulf. 

Exmouth Tackle and Camping owner Steve Riley, who was instrumental in turning vision of a repurposed reef in Exmouth Gulf into a reality, said it provides great fishing for fishers in small boats.  

“King Reef is a very easy and accessible spot to fish and it’s brimming with life, so it’s perfect for small boat owners to get out for a fish,” he said.  

“Our record time for reaching the reef, having a troll and having two Spanish mackerel in the boat is seven minutes, that’s how good the fishing has become there!  

“Red emperor, amberjack and Rankin cod were barely reported at all throughout Exmouth Gulf before King Reef’s deployment, now these species are trickling outwards from the structure in great numbers and snorkelers have reported seeing red emperor in only four metres of water within the Gulf. It’s an unexpected, but welcome surprise.”   

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “King Reef is a perfect example of how repurposed structures like these can quickly create productive, abundant underwater habitats. It is a huge credit to the Exmouth community and all our partners who have helped bring this dynamic reef system to life. 

“Deploying habitat enhancement structures like King Reef is an internationally recognised and scientifically proven method to increase the productivity of our oceans. We are looking forward to seeing more of the structures creating new vibrant marine habitat like this in other parts of WA in the near future.” 

Check out more stunning imagery captured by Blue Media Exmouth below, showing the thriving fish and coral reef communities!  

Exmouth’s King Reef – from barren seafloor to a world-class fishing hotspot

From a featureless seafloor to a flourishing marine oasis where fishing world records are being broken – King Reef in Exmouth has become a fishing haven in less than four years.  

Since six large, repurposed steel structures and almost 50 concrete modules were deployed across two acres of sandy seafloor to the north-east of Exmouth in 2018, the underwater desert has now become a fish city, teeming with large pelagic and demersal species prowling the artificial reef.  

One family that has taken full advantage of the improved fishing action surrounding this artificial reef spanning an area roughly equivalent to five footy ovals is the Grasso’s, who are all King Bay Game Fishing Club members in Dampier.  

Each member of the Grasso family – father Mick, his partner Channy and their two children Max and Mia – boasts impressive fishing accolades in their own rights, with each of them owning Australian or world fishing records, recognised by the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) and Game Fishing Association Australia (GFAA).  

The source of many of these world and Australian fishing records is King Reef – just 6.4km northeast of the Exmouth Town Boat Ramp.  

12-year-old Max Grasso’s line-class world record golden trevally weighing over 13kg and measuring 105cm, caught off King Reef. Give the Grasso family’s Instagram page a follow to keep up to date with the amazing fish they catch!

King Reef shows how rapidly an artificial reef can help boost the marine life around the structure, with 100 fish species monitored around it, including prized demersal species such as red emperor and cod patrolling the depths, while pelagic species such as golden trevally and even sailfish have been spotted patrolling the topwater. 

One of the line-class world records taken out on the reef included a 13.06kg whopper of a golden trevally measuring 1.05m, caught by talented young angler Max Grasso @junior_grassy on Platypus Pretest line. This impressive catch broke two world records at once – the 10kg line class male world record and the small fry male world record. 

“Max’s world record line class golden trevally was taken at King Reef, on the maiden voyage of our new boat and only 20 minutes into running in the motor. It is amazing to now have a fishing location like this so close to home and so easily accessible for everyone,” said his father, Mick Grasso.  

These stunning underwater snaps taken by professional photographer Violeta J. Brosig from Blue Media Exmouth show what is happening beneath the surface at King Reef, with the repurposed structures now teeming with fish, marine life, algae and coral.

Both Max, 12 and his younger sister Mia, 8, cleaned up at the recent Game Fishing Association Australia (GFAA) awards after numerous trips to King Reef.  

Max set a target to tag 120 game fish for the 2021/22 season. Not only did King Reef play a key role in helping him pass this mark with three months to spare, but Max also had to buy an extra-large cricket bag to fit in all his trophies from the GFAA awards night!  

Max took out the Junior Male Angler Capture, Junior Male Angler Release and Peter Bennett Trophy for most meritorious tag and release achievements by a junior angler, along with the Neil Patrick Trophy for most gamefish tagged in Australian waters.  

Max’s younger sister Mia also sweeped multiple GFAA awards, taking out the WA small fry female capture and release divisions. She then went on to claim the national Small Fry Capture Award, winning the ‘big trophy’ she set her eyes on after her brother had won it previously.

Max Grasso (pictured left) and Mia Grasso (pictured right) both cleaned up at the recent Game Fishing Association Australia (GFAA) Awards, with many of their tagged and record catches from King Reef in Exmouth.

“It is fantastic to see that artificial reef structures such as King Reef boost marine life and create fantastic fishing opportunities, whether it’s by trolling or bottom fishing” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland.  

“King Reef is a perfect example of how repurposed structures can create thriving new habitats and support a huge range of species that bring benefits to the local community, economy and environment. 

“It’s why Recfishwest is targeting approvals and funding for new artificial reefs in various locations from Albany to Broome to add to the seven reefs currently flourishing in WA waters.”  

The deployement of the King Reef structures came from a collaboration between Recfishwest and the Exmouth local community, BHP, NERA, DPIRD, Subcon and Curtin University.  

Find out more about the State’s network of artificial reefs here.  

The location of King Reef in Exmouth, make sure you pay this great fishing spot a visit!

A vision for artificial reefs opening up an ocean of opportunities for everyone

Recently, Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland visited Exmouth Game Fishing Club to announce a community partnership that will see BHP fund the Recfishwest Exmouth Reef Vision program over the next two years.

Reef Vision is a world-first citizen science program in which more than 100 community volunteers gather underwater video footage of some of WA’s most valued species, by dropping cameras over the side of their boats and onto the State’s artificial reefs. It was great to see some of these valued volunteers join Recfishwest at the fishing club earlier in the week, as seen in the banner at the top of this news item.

READ WHAT THE FISHERIES MINISTER HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE NEW REEF VISION PARTNERSHIP HERE.

This new partnership will help monitor the development and success of the reefs’ ability to increase fish productivity and therefore create greater, safe and accessible fishing opportunities for small boat fishers.

CHECK OUT THE TODAY TONIGHT VIDEO BELOW

Watch how old mining junk has transformed our ocean.

Watch how old mining junk has transformed our ocean.

Posted by Today Tonight on Monday, August 19, 2019

The announcement, coinciding with National Science Week, reflects an evolving partnership between Recfishwest and BHP with BHP throwing its weight behind the King Reef project deployed in the safe waters of the Exmouth Gulf only a year ago. Read more about King Reef and find out it’s location here.

King Reef is now a very important part of fishing in the Exmouth Gulf and the local community have really embraced it by becoming the stewards of the reef and helping capture some amazing footage – so without their efforts, Exmouth Reef Vision simply wouldn’t be what it is today!

Six large steel structures, along with 49 concrete modules, were deployed across more than two acres of barren seafloor, roughly the equivalent of five footy ovals. A partnership between Recfishwest, Subcon, BHP, National Energy Resources Australia (NERA) and the WA State Government meant Western Australia had its first look at a reef concept never seen before in Australia.

Recfishwest, Reef Vision and BHP staff preparing to go out to King Reef and shoot footage of Reef Vision cameras being dropped for the Today Tonight program. Thanks to Josh from On Strike Charters for all his support on the day.

Recfishwest engaged with the fishing club in Exmouth six years ago about their vision to create a small boat fishing reef in the gulf – and to now have the reef in the water, to hear the fishing reports and see the video of the reef’s development and abundant fish life is fantastic.

Reef Vision volunteers drop Baited Remote Underwater Video Cameras (BRUV’s) onto the state’s artificial reefs.

The reef has already seen more than 50 different fish species recorded with more than half of those being some of our favourite species including red emperor, Spanish mackerel, Rankin cod, coral trout and spangled emperor.

Artificial reefs like these are clearly a big hit for fish, which in turn attracts the fishers, who in turn are spending valuable tourism dollars in regional towns like Exmouth – $1.8 billion a year on fishing trips according to our Economic Dimensions of Recreational Fishing in Western Australia report.

So what’s next?

These reef projects are clearly a big win for the marine environment, recreational fishers, the local community and the WA economy as a whole, and we will be pushing for more of these to be developed in the future to enhance fishing opportunities for all fishers.

And it’s great we’re now seeing other industries coming to the table to partner with Recfishwest to enhance our aquatic environments to benefit the WA fishing community.

Recfishwest are proud to have driven the artificial reefs phenomenon in WA and the ongoing research into it – as well as developing a bright future for further development.

We are pleased to be at the forefront of innovative approaches creating resilient oceans, abundant fish stocks and great safe, accessible fishing opportunities for all.

For a not-for-profit organisation like Recfishwest, forging these types of partnerships really help make fishing better and we are grateful to BHP for supporting such a great project.

Partnerships like this allow us to deploy more of our existing resources – both financial and human – into other areas that can also benefit the recreational fishing community such as fish stocking and infrastructure like jetties.

Our vision is to pursue healthy partnerships that create huge benefits for the wider fishing community and this initiative is another step in that direction.

Check out the Red Emperor of Exmouth’s King Reef

Creating amazing fishing opportunities through artificial reefs is something fishers request often and is something Recfishwest is proud to be delivering for the community.

Exmouth’s King Reef joins artificial reefs in Esperance, Dunsborough, Bunbury, Mandurah and south of Rottnest Island.

Volunteers from Recfishwest’s Reef Vision project recently captured some fantastic footage of juvenile red emperor on King Reef – it’s a must see for any keen fisher! Look a look for yourself!

Check out the other artificial reefs and find more information on them here.

First look! King Reef boasts 28 species in 28 days

Exmouth’s newest fishing playground is the fastest developing artificial reef in WA with 28 species calling it home within 28 days!

Juvenile red emperor, Rankin cod, spangled emperor, tuna, estuary cod and sailfish are just some of the species on offer at the reef which was deployed in early August 2018.

All these fish are available for families in small boats to access, especially when the winds are up on the Western side of the Cape and people can escape to the Gulf to enjoy some great fishing only 10 minutes from the boat ramp.

Fishing King Reef

The reef configuration was designed in a way to maximise both fish production and the area available for people to fish. There’s no point building a fishing reef, if only a few boats can fish it. Drifting baits, trolling deep diving lures or jigging next to the structures with metal jigs or soft plastics are all good methods used to catch yourself a quality fish.

More importantly, drop into the local Exmouth tackle stores to make sure your gear is up to scratch, especially if your fishing around the steel structures – as once a decent fish hits your lure or bait, you’ll need to lock your drag up, steer the fish away from the structures and muscle that fish back to your boat.

Need the Coordinates? (These are also available on our Artificial Reefs webpage)

King Reef is only a 10 minute boat trip from the Exmouth Marina! Click for larger image.

Check out the PerthNow story here!

Click here to read more about the reef and its location!

King Reef – WA’s Newest Fishing Playground

WA’s latest purpose-built artificial reef, ‘King Reef’, has been installed in the Exmouth Gulf, awaiting the fishing community to pay it a visit.

The project is a collaboration between Recfishwest, BHP, NERA (National Energy Resources Australia), Subcon International and Curtin University.

Through Recfishwest the project also has support from the passionate Exmouth community and the Western Australian State Government, through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.

Take a look at the video for the whole story inside what makes this project so exciting and paves the way for future engineered ecosystems.

Check out King Reef’s coordinates below!

Only 10 minutes from the Exmouth Marina Boat Ramp!