Artificial Reef Towers

Fishing for Perth metro pelagics has a new breath of new life with the instalment of two steel reef towers, which will boost fishing opportunities for fishers. The towers are 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 modules 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 in WA, 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 ton and is 10m long and 7.8m wide. The costly process of reef deployment at sea was also 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 was towed out into position and its buoyancy tanks were flooded to safely and cost effectively sink the towers.

The reef towers were 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 are located in “the paddock” between Garden Island and Rottnest Island. The final coordinates have been given as 32ᵒ 07.527′ S, 115ᵒ 27.013′ E for Tower 1 and 32ᵒ 07.461′ S, 115ᵒ 26.978′ E for Tower 2 in 44-45m water depth.

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

Recfishwest MEDIA RELEASE

16 December 2016

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’

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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.