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Artificial Reefs as Restoration Tools: A Case Study on the West Florida Shelf

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Artificial reefs are one of a number of tools that should be considered by scientists and managers when planning coastal zone restoration and/or mitigation projects. In this article, the details of one project from the West Florida Shelf are presented. Two types of artificial reefs were used to mitigate pipeline construction impacts on natural hardbottom ledges in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. The project's primary objective was to avoid the paradigm of building artificial reefs as fish attraction devices, and to instead implement a design that would mimic, not augment, natural hardbottom conditions. Fish assemblage parameters (species richness and commercial fish abundances) were compared between the artificial habitats and natural hardbottom reference sites. Results indicate that species richness trends are similar among artificial and natural reefs, while certain commercial fish abundances are significantly higher on the artificial reefs. Recommendations for future restoration/mitigation projects using artificial reefs are discussed.

Keywords: West Florida Shelf; artificial reefs; coastal zone mitigation; hardbottom

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: College of Marine Science, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2008

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