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For the first time in NSW artificial reefs will be deployed into a recreational fishing haven in a bid to improve fishing conditions. NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), Manager Recreational Fisheries, John Diplock, said this is excellent news for recreational fishers in Lake Macquarie. ‘The six small artificial reefs, which are made up of around 30 moulded concrete balls per reef, will today be deployed in the vicinity of Galgabba point on the eastern shore of Lake Macquarie. ‘Reef balls are very popular with anglers throughout the world with about half a million deployed in many different countries. They are found to attract greater numbers of fish to the area and also provide protection for juveniles. ‘The balls can easily be moved or removed completely if necessary,’ Mr Diplock said. The Saltwater Recreational Fishing Trust has funded the project through the recreational fishing licence fee. ‘Before the reefs could be deployed DPI was required to undertake scientific surveys of the sites and surrounding natural reefs in the lake. This information will be used to help form a comparison with the artificial reefs. ‘Over the next two years the reefs will be monitored by video and divers to determine the species of fish, the size, when the fish are there and how long they stay for. ‘Local recreational fishing clubs will also be asked to monitor their catches,’ Mr Diplock said. In total 180 small reef balls will be deployed into the lake. The artificial reef project has received widespread support from Lake Macquarie City Council, the Concerned Anglers Group, anglers, the local community and the Boat Owners Association. The NSW Department of Primary Industries is undertaking a pilot Artificial Reefs project to investigate the benefits of artificial reefs as a fisheries enhancement tool in Recreational Fishing Havens (RFH) along the NSW coast. A series of small artificial reefs are being deployed in identified barren areas in three RFHs. The Department has worked closely with recreational fishers and estuarine user groups to establish suitable sites that will minimise social and environmental impacts. Before the reefs are deployed, a number of approvals are required from various Management Authorities. The reefs will be monitored before and after deployment using a combination of research methods including baited underwater videos, diver surveys and angler catch information. Lake Macquarie – Galgabba Point Botany Bay – pending approval St Georges Basin – pending approval The Lake Macquarie, Botany Bay and St Georges Basin artificial reefs are being constructed using existing ‘Reef Ball’ technology. Reef balls are individual reef modules cast from a single mould. The Reef Ball modules are a patented mold supplied by the Reef Ball Development Group and are made from a special mix of concrete that enhances marine growth while withstanding saltwater corrosion. The Department is using ‘Mini-Bay Reef Balls’, which when placed together on the bottom in varying numbers, form small artificial reefs of different sizes (see dimensions below). The individual reef ball modules create habitat for marine fish, algae and crustaceans and can be deployed, moved or retrieved if necessary. Reefs Balls have been used extensively around the world for a number of applications including natural reef enhancement, reef restoration, coastal stabalisation and fishing related development. Evidence to date suggests that Reef Balls can reach 80% or more of the natural species diversity and population densities of nearby natural reef systems within just a few years. Over 500,000 Reef Balls have been deployed worldwide in over 3,200 projects. Objectives Identify suitable sites for the construction of artificial reefs in 3 estuaries that have been declared Recreational Fishing Havens namely Lake Macquarie, Botany Bay and St. Georges Basin. Construct variable artificial reef configurations to establish best-suited designs for NSW estuaries to optimise effectiveness and minimise cost. Scientific research into artificial reef related topics. Inform the recreational fishing community about the effectiveness and contribution of artificial reefs in improving recreational fishing in each estuary. Establish guidelines for the consideration of any future artificial reef proposals in NSW estuarine and coastal waters.

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