The Science Behind the Fish Reef Project

Fish Reefs are designed to enhance fish habitats by providing additional structure that can increase the production of fish and other aquatic organisms. Fish and other aquatic organisms are attracted to the new structures and begin to populate and breed in and around them, this – in turn – attracts more fish and aquatic life as a food chain develops.

Our designs create an up-welling effect, diverting more nutrient-rich colder water from the seabed up in the water column. This creates food for plankton and larval fish, which attracts small fish, which in turn attracts larger fish.

Each Fish Reef Design creates complex spaces and habitats with differences in light, shade and water flow to encourage further colonization of marine organisms. The reef structures can be tailored to suit the requirements of specific target species such as rock lobster, abalone, demersal (living on or near the seafloor) or pelagic fin fish (living near to the surface or higher up in the water column).

Our initial Fish Reef Units are based on a 50 year old, Japanese design called a Turtle Block. The Turtle Block has been used with great success for decades which is why we chose it.

Image: SCE Study on Japanese Artificial Reefs, 1983

International Experience Has Proven

Man made reef structures provide clear environmental benefits and, in some cases, can support greater biodiversity than adjacent natural reefs. Artificial reefs can generate social and economic benefits to the State and to local communities by enhancing the local fisheries and tourism opportunities as a result.

Over 100 Peer Reviewed, Published Artificial Reef Studies

Fish Reef Project is busy designing and testing cutting edge reef designs that are tailored to the needs of specific marine ecosystem, water chemistry and ocean conditions.

Fish Reef Materials & Design

Fish Reef Units

Quarry Rock

Catalina Quarry Rock

Sea Dome™

© 2019 Fish Reef Project

Sea Cave™

© 2019 Fish Reef Project

Sea Lily™

© 2019 Fish Reef Project

Sea Tunnel™

© 2019 Fish Reef Project

Sea Dog™

© 2019 Fish Reef Project

Sea Ledge™

© 2019 Fish Reef Project

Pressure Testing The Reef Units

Sea Cave Reef™

Sea Tunnel Reef™

Get The Facts

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Will the reef draw in life from other reefs or create new life?

A: Initially some life may migrate from other places, however very quickly the Fish Reef creates entirely new marine ecosystems that did not in exist in any way prior to reef creation.

Q: Won’t the reef look artificial or man made?

A: Not at all. The reefs become fully encrusted with algae, sea fans and invertebrates within one year. The reefs soon look exactly like natural habitat.

Q: Will the reef effect the surf in any way?

A: No, not in any way, shape or form. The reef are placed about 3/4 of a mile offshore in 36 – 40 feet of water and in no way effect any of our surf breaks.

Q: Will permitting be an issue?

A: The permitting is complex and requires funding and military-like discipline to negotiate. Nevertheless, due to the overwhelming support for this project from all sides the reefs can be and will be created.

Q: Some say man made reefs make such cozy homes for fish that they opt to stay in the caves instead of breed.

A: This notion is unproven and is unlikely, as the strongest drive in nature is to breed. It does not matter how nice one’s home is, eventually the need to procreate overrides.

Q: How do you decide on location?

A: The reefs should be in 35 to 50 feet of water for best light penetration, far enough off shore not to disturb surf breaks. They are placed on empty mud bottom so as not to effect existing hard bottom habitat.

Q: How long does it take until a reef is fully mature?

A: Just 18 months for kelp and other life to take hold and several years to be fully mature.

Q: How will you monitor the reefs progress?

A: Leading marine biologists will perform five-year detailed scientific monitoring programs on the reefs. We will be creating near real time, strategic videos of the reefs’ progress that we can all access online.

There Are Many Ways To Get Involved

Existing Artificial Reefs in California

These reefs listed below were made for utility and not initially intended to be biological reefs:

  • Goleta Pipeline:  Video Here
  • Arco Island:  Video Here
  • Zuniga Jetty
  • Mission Beach Breakwater
  • Long Beach Breakwater
  • Marina Del rey Breakwater
  • Redondo BreakWater
  • Huntington Breakwater
  • NewPort Beach Breakwater
  • Dana Point breakWater
  • Channel Islands Breakwater
  • Hyperion Outfall Pipeline
  • Tanker Moorings in SM Bay
  • Point Loma Pitfall Pipeline
  • Ventura Breakwater
  • Gaviota Pipeline
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