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Free Content Artificial Reef Research: A Review with Recommendations for Future Priorities

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Artificial reef literature was critically reviewed to determine what knowledge about the biology, ecology, and economics of artificial reefs had been scientifically established and to identify and recommend future projects, areas, and methods of research. General agreement exists that artificial reefs are effective fish attractants and an important fishery management tool. Most published papers deal with building artificial reefs or are qualitative descriptive studies detailing successional changes and species observed. Conclusions were often based on little or no scientific data. Few studies used quantitative experimental methods and many lacked scientifically valid controls.

Drastically different approaches to artificial reefs in terms of purpose, funding, research, materials, and size have been taken by Japan and the United States. Most marine artificial reefs in the United States are large, low budget, and haphazardly constructed from scrap materials, using volunteer labor. These reefs are usually built in deeper offshore waters for use by recreational fishermen with boats. Japan's artificial reefs, however, are designed and constructed by engineers, built of durable, non-waste, prefabricated materials, placed in scientifically selected sites in shallow and deep water, and are primarily used by commercial fishermen.

In this paper, 29 recommendations are made for future studies. Improved professional publication standards and more carefully controlled studies using an experimental approach are suggested. Greater emphasis should be placed on determining optimal design, size, and placement of artificial reefs to maximize production. More attention should be given to small, shallow, nearshore artificial reefs that are accessible without a boat. Also, reefs designed for increasing larval and juvenile recruitment, survival, and growth should be considered. Improved quantitative assessment techniques are needed to describe artificial reefs, reef communities, and to monitor biotic changes. Artificial reef data bases should be maintained so that the effectiveness of various artificial reefs can be more easily assessed. The importance of fish attraction versus fish production and the relationship between standing crop and fish catch have not been adequately addressed. The economics and social impact of artificial reefs also have not been carefully examined, especially the benefits from alternative designs and approaches.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 1985

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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