Monitoring Of Fish Populations On Artificial Reefs

1637 words - 7 pages

Introduction:
An artificial reef us a structure created by man either purposely designed and engineered or with materials of opportunity to mimic partially or entirely the functions and characteristics of a natural reef. (21) Artificial reefs tend to be built on featureless bottoms or places in close proximity to struggling reef assemblages. They are found all over the world and have been used on large scales in over fifty countries. (24) The fish assemblages are constructed for numerous purposes; to enhance biodiversity in a given area, to boost production of seafood (24), to help with a recovering or developing ecosystem, as offsets for reducing the access and to limit the destruction of fishing grounds or marine sanctuaries and to improve recreational scuba diving and fishing in a safer way. (21) (22).

There are many important factors which are to be carefully considered when the creation and the deployment of an artificial reef is to take place; the materials used, the location of the placement and the aims of the reef. Almost any structure can be used to enhance the biodiversity in a given area and therefore can be classified as an artificial reef. (23) They vary hugely, rarely being the same; they are built out of materials of opportunity, which are things such as; cars or other road vehicles, sunken vessels, tires, household appliances etc. (23) or they can be purposely designed and engineered to suit specific needs. The creation of artificial reefs the geographical location of the assemblage upon completion is carefully considered. The environment of which it is to be placed needs to be carefully analysed and the suitability needs to be determined as strong currents, strong swell, the depth of the water and extreme weather patterns can all negatively affect the durability and the success of the artificial reef. (26) Placement too close or on top of natural reef could lead to the destruction of the reef and the surrounding ecosystem and therefore defeating the initial purpose and aim of most artificial reefs, however, constructing one where it is totally isolated can also lead to failure as isolation could lead to the lack of marine organisms inhabiting. The choice of sediment that the reef is placed on is also extremely important in terms of the sustainability of the construction; placing a reef on a rocky or unstable surface could lead to the deconstruction and therefore failure in some cases which could cause more damage to the natural environment itself.

Artificial reefs are extremely important to the growing and continually changing environment of the ocean as they provide safe habitats and breeding grounds to many marine organisms and see biodiversity flourish in once quite featureless areas. The correct use of artificial reefs could work hand in hand with conservation efforts to end overexploitation of many marine species and their ecosystems as well as creating a more suited and sustainable place for recreational ocean...

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