Artificial reefs – junk installations versus custom designs

Port Macquarie Artificial Reef
Port Macquarie Artificial Reef

NSW has gone down the road of installing purpose-designed reef systems.

One of the new reefs is off Port Macquarie.

Here’s the link to NSW Government’s page about the reef.

It was installed in February 2016, with 20 concrete modules each weighing 23 tonnes, each more than 5m tall.

The modules were constructed in Newcastle and loaded onto a barge, which was towed to the artificial reef site.

Each module was “expertly placed” on the ocean floor at a depth of approximately 46m, 6.3km off the coast.

Custom-built systems are possibly the best approach to reef-making, but it is also the top-dollar approach.

While NSW is doing a great job, I don’t agree with their departmental knocking of “junk” reefs.

Junk reefs have been hugely successful.

Steel boat hulls such as scuttled trawlers, oil rig tenders, unwanted concrete culverts and yacht hulls and the like, have been a great success around the world.

In Australia, nowhere have junk reefs done better than in the Northern Territory.

The NT has used scuttled hulls, mooring anchors, concrete culverts, bus stops, concrete pipes, and old mining gear.

One of the best NT reefs is an old bottlewashing machine.

History has shown that some types of junk are unsuitable for reefs, eg tyres. And some items – eg car bodies – don’t last long.

Otherwise, junk reefs can be cheap and effective.

The junk needs a clean-up, and then must be installed in a suitable area.

It’s not that hard to do.

In some cases NT reefs have been sunk by volunteers, working with government approvals.

Obsolete warships sunk around Australia for divers are, by definition, junk reefs. They have worked well.

The Port Macquarie reef is already fishing well.

Great work boys.

But no excuse to be knocking junk reefs.

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