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Fish Reef Project

Fish Reef Project Goals

Fish Reef Project


Goal: Establish artificial reefs capable of increasing fish and marine life abundance.

This goal aligns with the original intent of the California Legislature that promulgated goals for a California Artificial Reef Program in California Fish and Game Code 6423(b).


The Fish Reef Project objectives for designing and placing artificial reefs in state waters follows the recommendations in the National Artificial Reef Plan (2007) and standards found in the National Fishing Enhancement Act (Section 203).  These objectives are:


1) Enhance fishery resources to the maximum extent practicable

Many California fish and marine life species are dependent on hard bottom and/or giant kelp (Macrocystis) habitats during some or all of their life history.  These species population carry capacity is potentially affected by the availability of these habitats.  (Sources: Science Review of Artificial Reefs. NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, 2012; Milton Love, 2006.)  Creating artificial reefs using reef balls has the potential to enhance fishery resources off the California coast Reef balls are designed specifically to mimic the interstitial and small cave spaces found on natural reefs that is necessary for increasing marine life productivity.


2) When possible, enhance and restore seafloor that have been negatively impacted by human use


3) Facilitate access and use by recreational and commercial fishermen

Most fish species targeted by recreational and commercial fishermen in California are found within or adjacent to hard bottom and/or kelp bed habitats.  Marine protected areas established along the California coast have reduced the total area available for fishermen, resulting in increased fishing pressure on natural reefs that are still open to fishing.  Creating artificial reefs will improve access for fishermen, particularly in high-use areas adjacent to harbors.  This will also reduce fishing pressure on natural reefs.


4) Minimize conflicts among competing uses of waters

Artificial reefs have been shown to reduce human pressure on natural reefs and reduce conflicts among user groups because they can be designed to meet the needs of specific user groups (Source: Science Review of Artificial Reefs. NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, 2012.)


5) Minimize environmental risks

Reef balls are made out of concrete and do not release any harmful constituents into the marine environment, unlike tires, derelict ships, planes and other secondary materials.  Reef balls and other designed artificial reef structures have been found to have "a demonstrated high success rate as artificial reef material in both marine and estuarine environments."  Further, reef balls have been found to be very effective materials for mimicking reef ecology because they are designed to provide interstitial space and increased surface areas, particularly for the types of low profile benthic reefs that support vast kelp forests off the Southern California coast. (Source: Guidelines for Marine Artificial Reef Materials, 2nd Edition. Atlantic and Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commissions, 2004.)


Informing State Artificial Reef Policy

In addition the above objectives, the Fish Reef Project believes that its work can support and inform state efforts on determining how to use artificial reefs to effectively manage its marine resources.  We view state and federal resource agencies as collaborative partners in our work.  Establishing small artificial reefs through the Fish Reef Project will provide information on optimal reef design, placement and monitoring for future artificial reef projects that are established to enhance marine species abundance or mitigate impacts from coastal development (e.g. port expansion, power plant operations, etc.).



"When you make a reef you make life" -- The Fish Reef Project guiding principle

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