Did you miss the 2015 Florida Artificial Reef Summit? Not to worry, anyone with a computer or smart phone can now watch the archived online coverage of the sessions at the summit website, https://www.flseagrant.org/fisheries/artificialreefs/summit/.
The Summit, organized jointly by Florida Sea Grant, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Service, brings together artificial reef managers, fisheries scientists, marine contractors, and others from around the state and nation to hear recent research results, share experiences and generate new collaborations, according to Bryan Fluech, Florida Sea Grant agent with UF/IFAS Extension in Collier County.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Navigating Expectations and Charting Objectives.”
“We chose the theme to reflect on the diverse perspectives of artificial reef use in Florida as well as discuss what it takes to responsibly plan for, manage, and evaluate a comprehensive artificial reef program in the Sunshine state,” Fluech said.
Florida has one of the most active artificial reef programs in the world with over 2,900 planned public artificial reefs placed off of its coasts. Everything from bridge rubble to specially designed concrete structures to retired naval ships has been deployed. Besides providing recreational fishing and diving opportunities, artificial reefs have also been used as substrate to support new oyster reefs, as erosion control structures to protect vegetated shorelines, as well as mitigation and restoration reefs to replace and repair natural hard-bottom habitats lost through beach nourishment activity or vessel groundings.
“Artificial reefs drive a variety of economic activities that bring significant economic benefit to coastal communities,” Fluech said. “A number of cost-benefit analyses in Florida show positive economic results, especially in the local economies directly impacted by the fishermen and divers that come to take advantage of the reefs.”
For more than three decades, Florida Sea Grant has contributed to Florida’s artificial reef program by developing and disseminating science-based information about the ecology of artificial reefs and their construction. Many of Sea Grant’s county-based extension faculty members assist local artificial reef programs by providing technical information that can improve the productivity and management of these reefs.
The last statewide summit took place in 2010 in Cocoa Beach with over 180 participants in attendance.
For more information on the 2015 conference, agenda and speakers, visit www.flseagrant.org/artificialreefs/summit.
For more general information on artificial reefs in Florida, visit: www.flseagrant.org/artificialreefs/