Seafloor Enhancement - Private Reefs Japan to Florida

Private Reef Building in Alabama and Florida
De Alessi CPC Study on Private Conservation
Michael De Alessi • June 1, 1996

Fishing communities around the world learned hundreds of years ago to fish around natural reefs and other large objects underwater. Before long, they began creating the first artificial reefs, often out of nothing more than a pile of rocks.

In Japan, the old fishing communities that first discovered the usefulness of artificial reefs gradually evolved into cooperatives that came to own the reefs outright, and today their reefs are well protected, productive resources. But elsewhere, very few ownership schemes developed. Thus, even though artificial reefs remain popular fishing sites, few of the people who fish them are directly involved in creating them.

The private ownership of marine resources can be a very effective conservation tool.

Throughout much of the U.S., artificial reefs are created directly by state conservation departments. Alabama and Florida are two exceptions

The Gulf of Mexico is particularly well suited to artificial reef creation because the seafloor is mostly mud and sand; the bottom is relatively bare. “Dropping one of these [artificial reefs] in the middle of this vast expanse of mud bottom is like putting an oasis in the desert,” according to one state official.

95 percent of the reef creation in Alabama is done by private groups and individuals,

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