SBEP study confirms economically important fish use new artificial reef designs
By Christine Quigley, Public Outreach Assistant
artificial reef report indicates positive results for new reef designs in Sarasota Bay. A year-long monitoring effort showed that several recreationally important fish species like gag grouper, gray snapper, and sheepshead have been using newly deployed reef modules. Continued artificial reef monitoring studies like this will help direct future reef enhancement projects and hopefully contribute to a larger understanding of the role artificial reefs may play in the protection and enhancement of local fisheries.
SBEP, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Reef Innovations, and Aptim Environmental & Infrastructure recently concluded a study of several artificial reefs in Sarasota Bay. The study mapped the extent of three artificial reefs and monitored how different fish species and marine organisms used different types of reef modules. One focus of the monitoring centered on a particular reef module, called a “deep cover” module, and whether it was preferentially utilized by juvenile gag grouper. These recreationally important fish, which spend their first two years of life in the Bay, are known to prefer the protection against predators offered by this reef design.