Marine Artificial Reef Research and Development: Integrating Fisheries Management Objectives

An Alternative Approach to Designing Artificial Reefs to Manage Marine Fisheries

Stephen A. Bortone


Abstract.—Most artificial reef deployments to date have been directed toward fish assemblage enhancement, with only a few that are fisheries- or species-specific. The ostensible rationale for this approach is that when the artificial reef fish assemblage increases in a given area, the component target species will also increase. This premise also implies that the target species is characteristically reef- or structure-associated. Targeted species may not be niche-specific with regard to their association with reef attributes; however, trophic groups may be niche generalists for a suite of reef attributes. Artificial reef designs could be directed toward trophic groups and not individual species or the entire assemblage. This would allow more efficient optimization of artificial reef designs directed toward generalized life history features common among species within a trophic group. The delineation of species according to reef niche should include attributes based on trophic features that will allow optimal management through trophic-group-oriented artificial reef deployments. If successful, trophic groups within an assemblage could be more efficiently managed to allow the full integration of artificial reefs into fisheries management on a worldwide basis. Thus, the application of artificial reef design principles could become universal for targeted trophic groups.