Using ecological evidence to refine approaches to deploying offshore artificial reefs for recreational fisheries

Craig Blount*, Valeriya Komyakova, Lachlan Barnes, Marcus Lincoln Smith, Dilys Zhang, Kate Reeds, Matthew Taylor, Daryl Peter McPhee, William MacBeth, Evan Needham

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

Artificial reefs have many applications but are best known for their deployments to enhance recreational fisheries by creating new habitat in areas where natural reef is otherwise limited. The expectation is that fish assemblages will take up residence on artificial reefs and that these assemblages will become at least similar, if not more diverse and abundant, to those on natural reefs. Although designed, purpose-built artificial reefs are becoming more widely used in support of recreational fisheries and many of the historic issues have been resolved, conservation practitioners and managers still face challenges as to the type, number, and arrangement of structures and where to deploy them to maximize benefits and minimize risks. The ecological literature was reviewed to develop and enhance contemporary principles of artificial reef best practices for utilization. Our review identified optimal shapes, vertical relief, void spaces, and unit arrangements for increasing volumes and diversity of catch to recreational fishers and we provide a tool for identifying the least constrained areas for artificial reef deployment. We suggest; (a) monitoring of noncatch motivators in combination with quantitative indicators of the fishing activity (e.g., catch rate and effort) will provide the best understanding of success or failure of an artificial reef deployment; (b) choosing target species for informing purpose-built artificial reef designs to be reef-associated, demersal, philopatric, territorial, and obligatory reef species that are desired by local recreational fishers; and (c) considering the ecosystem services provided by artificial reefs beyond those associated with recreational fishing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBulletin of Marine Science
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Oct 2021

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