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Habitat Enhancement

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While government policies focus predominantly on sustainable fishing, habitat loss is one of the major contributing factors to fisheries decline. Subcon are leading the industry in marine habitat restoration.

Dredging, run-off and trawl fishing have contributed to broad acre loss of habitat on every coastline. In addition, over the past few decades, we have lost over 40% of our natural coral reefs. Projections are that 90% of coral reefs will be in danger by 2030, and all of them by 2050.
To manage fish and invertebrate stocks for sustainability reasons, it is essential to restore the supporting habitats of targeted species, as well as implement the more common management practices of quota limits, size limits and closures.

Engineered reef substrates restore the ecosystem services previously provided by natural reefs. Properly designed structures provide the critical substrates to recruit marine flora and sessile fauna. Well designed light and shade, diversity in cryptic spaces, vertical relief, reef field layout and flow modification are essential features of a productive reef.

FAQ’s

Properly designed structures provide the critical stable substrates for marine flora and sessile fauna to recruit onto. Well designed light and shade, diversity in cryptic spaces, vertical relief, reef field layout and flow modification are essential features of a productive reef.

To promote flora settlement its important that surfaces are sloping and in the water column, not flat and at or below the mudline. Flat low profile surfaces silt up and don’t recruit. Tall, sloping surfaces recruit really effectively. Its important to remember that artificial reef productivity isn’t just about more fish. More flora and sessile fauna means a more diverse a productive ecosystem!

A fish’ life cycle is complex. Many species are known to aggregate to spawn in one habitat, mature from juveniles in another and then move again as mature adults onto deeper or larger reefs. Reef productivity is not just about more fish, also bigger and healthier fish. Reef ecosystems that promote the maturation of juvenile fish is a key service that we can engineer into the design.

Modules that create real upwelling recruit fish better than ones that don’t. Especially bait balls love upwellings. Modules create upwelling through a combination of hydrodynamic design and orientation to the current.

The field layout at Subcon’s King Reef, Exmouth is a good example of module orientation considering the prevailing current. Our ReefPyramid is specifically designed to create real upwellings.

Reef module arrangement creates connectivity.

Research by NSW DPI and UNSW has demonstrated how fish assemblages are significantly increased by the presence of enhanced habitat.

We think nature is really good at the fine scale design. Its the macro habitat design that takes thousands of years. At Subcon we’ve focussed on creating large, productive macro seascapes and then we let nature take over and do what she does best!

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