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Artificial reefs in the Anthropocene: a review of geographical and historical trends in their design, purpose, and monitoring

Ramm, L.A.W., Florisson, J.H., Watts, S.L., Becker, A. and Tweedley, J.R.ORCID: 0000-0002-2749-1060 (2021) Artificial reefs in the Anthropocene: a review of geographical and historical trends in their design, purpose, and monitoring. Bulletin of Marine Science, 97 (4). pp. 699-728.

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The long history of artificial reefs has stimulated diversity in their physical properties and deployment for a range of purposes. A systematic literature search yielded 804 scientific publications on artificial reefs. A database of their characteristics was constructed and used to investigate geographical and historical trends. A total of 1074 unique artificial reefs from 71 countries were identified, with 89% located in the northern hemisphere, but equally distributed between eastern and western hemispheres. Reefs were assigned to one of three categories: (A) unintentional deployment, (B) intentional deployment but unintentional reef, and (C) intentional artificial reef. Category A reefs consisted predominantly of accidental shipwrecks. Category B reefs were primarily coastal defense structures in shallow waters and active oil and gas infrastructures at greater depths. The number of Category C reefs increased after 1965, with most in depths of 10–30 m. Most were constructed from concrete or steel, followed by rock and rubber. Usage of concrete as a material steadily increased, while those of steel and rubber decreased, coinciding with the transition from objects (materials) of opportunity to purpose- built reefs. Most reefs were deployed to enhance faunal communities or fisheries, particularly recreational fishing in North America and Australia. Monitoring was most often performed using underwater visual census but transitioned to more technologically advanced methods, particularly in more affluent countries over recent decades. We present a standardized protocol for describing artificial reefs and urge authors to include all relevant data in their publications to allow future comparisons to enhance our understanding and evaluation of these structures.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems
Harry Butler Institute
Publisher: Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science
Copyright: © 2021 Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science of the University of Miami
Other Information: Paper presented @ the 10th FSU-Mote International Symposium on Fisheries Ecology / 6th International Symposium on Stock Enhancement and Sea Ranching Mote Marine Lab, Sarasota, FL NOV 10-14, 2019
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