Artificial reef draws big crowds

MONITORING of the first offshore artificial reef in NSW has revealed Sydney’s fish populations are being drawn to the new underwater construction in big numbers.

“In just six months the purpose-built reef off the coast of Sydney is already proving a huge success with both fish and the State’s anglers and is a great example of money collected from fishing licences at work,” Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson said.

Underwater footage taken of the reef by NSW Department of Primary Industries researchers has shown a wide range of fish species schooling at the reef (see video below). These fish include kingfish, silver trevally, snapper, bream, leather jacket, flathead and the occasional mako shark.

inline_262_ kingfish and silver trevally on OAR ms.jpg
Schooling kingfish and silver trevally at the reef.

The steel artificial reef unit, which stands 12 metres high and weighs approximately 42 tonnes, was lowered into the ocean at a water depth of 38 metres in October 2011.

It is located approximately 1.2 kilometres off The Gap at Vaucluse and 1.9 kilometres off South Head and is the first and largest Australian designed artificial reef structure constructed in Australia.

Ms Hodgkinson said the purpose-built reef is the first of three planned for NSW fishers over the next five years.

“The reef structure was subject to thorough environmental assessments before being lowered into water off the coast of Sydney late last year,” Ms Hodgkinson said.

“The reef will now be monitored by NSW DPI researchers for three years using diver surveys and advanced underwater video technology to assess the impacts and effectiveness of the reef.

“This information will be used by the NSW Government to plan and design future reefs off the coast of NSW.”

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