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How Artificial Reefs Can be Useful?
July 28, 2010 15:50

A reef

Russian scientists claim that artificial reefs are extremely popular with marine inhabitants. Researchers from the Institute of Marine Biology (Far East branch of Russian academy of sciences) say that if Russian coastal shallow waters were filled with such reefs, catches of various commercial species of fish, invertebrates and algae will grow significantly.

First artificial reefs in the world were installed by researchers in the Possiet Gulf, located in the Sea of Japan, long time ago, in 1977. These reefs are capron ropes with herringbone capron flats of various shapes. Ropes are kept in vertical positions by floats on the surface and anchors at the bottom. Lower part of an artificial reef is 15-20 cm higher than bottom surface in order to prevent benthic predators from climbing it.

During life cycle, larvae of crabs, Japanese scallops and some other invertebrates have a so-called “sedentary stage”. They eagerly get fixed on an artificial reef and later settle down at bottom nearby. Artificial reefs are also a good habitat for larvae of various species of mussels and oysters. All we need to do is operate reefs in a right way, but scientists claim it is quite simple. Reefs are also favoured by various algae, and some fish species, herring, for instance, eagerly spawn there. Young salmons, on their way from Far Eastern rivers, also find shelter and food on these reefs.



An artificial reef
Russian biologists think that artificial reefs are a mighty tool of controlling quality of marine environments. Shelf waters of many countries are full of artificial reefs, and nothing prevents Russia from following suit. Our country has everything needed – scientific results, necessary materials, and financial resources. An artificial reef is not an expensive thing – it can be made even from plastic bottles with cut-off bottoms, a good solution for utilization of plastic bottles, by the way. These bottles, “beaded” on a capron rope with floats and anchors, can form structures of any height and size. Such constructions have already been successfully tested on an experimental site in the Amur Bay. Calculations reveal that one hectare of artificial reefs, made of polyethylene flats, costs 27 million rubles (slightly less than $1 million). Taking that this reef will be inhabited only by Japanese scallops (not considering increased populations of crabs, fish and shellfish), it will pay off in 7 years.

Long-term observations of Russian biologists from the Institute of Marine Biology revealed that artificial reefs were able to increase productive capacity of coastal waters and fish catches significantly without spending substantial amounts of money. Biologists believe that installation of artificial reefs in waters at depths not exceeding 20 meters should become Russia’s national priority. This task can partly be performed by domestic fishing enterprises. Vessels, which go fishing, should carry artificial reefs, and start fishing only after reefs have been installed.

Source: Science News

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian scientists Russian science Far East Russian academy of sciences  

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