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< prev - next > Environment and adaptation to climate change KnO 100370_Artificial reefs and their placement (Printable PDF)
People are destroying coral reefs and other
important fish habitats at an unprecedented
rate. Destructive fishing practices and
pollution are the two main causes. While
many NGOs are very actively trying to
convince the world’s politicians to take action
to prevent harmful practices, practical actions
are also being undertaken by many local
Ferro-cement and
Pipes (keep the
ends open)
As coral reefs are destroyed the communities
living in the coastal area suffer first from
depletion of fish stocks. The shorelines,
where their houses and businesses are and
where boats are moored, also suffer, as they
are no longer protected from the sea by the
reef. Once a community has felt the effects
of the loss of the reef, they may decide to take
Mixing (e.g. coconut
stumps boulders and well
One part of a solution could be for the community to build artificial reefs. It takes many,
many years for the coral that makes up the structure of a reef to grow. Artificial reefs (ARs)
have a long tradition in many parts of the world. In recent years, however, the use of modern
materials has greatly increased their potential. For example the use of purpose-built building
blocks called modules, constructed from cement, plastics, and steel, has enabled the
construction of relatively large structures using simple techniques (see examples below).
Their use has advantages and disadvantages.
They can be very valuable in repairing
damaged reefs and re-establishing reefs that
have been destroyed, but only if the reefs are
to be used as nurseries or ‘sanctuaries’, or if
they are to be fished using traditional
methods. If entirely new reefs are being
created in areas that are already over-fished,
they may exacerbate the problem by drawing
fish to the new reef, where they are more
easily caught. Reefs should also be built with
materials that will not contaminate the area if
they are disturbed or break down.
For the artificial reefs to contribute to
sustainable fisheries in the longer term, it is
important that the fishing communities are involved in all steps of the decision-making and
development processes. They should participate in the selection of the reefs’ sites, the choice
of materials, the management and monitoring of the reefs, and in their evaluation. It must be
the community’s decision to proceed (or not) at each stage of the process.
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