The Hall show, artificial reefs and the CCA
Artificial reefs. They work, and we’ll discuss that in a minute, and without question we need more of them, but how can the angling community get behind building artificial reefs and fjord the ever- increasing regulatory impediments to getting permission?
The answer is having a unified voice politically, and having a vehicle to fund artificial reef building financially! It starts this week at the Long Beach Fred Hall show that starts tomorrow, Wednesday, and runs through Sunday.
The new California chapter of the nationally recognized Coastal Conservation Association is going to be a big part of the 5-day show and friom where I sit, it provides that voice and vehicle, but it needs your support, your membership. Artificial reef building is just one of many projects that the CCA chapters of other states list in their accomplishments. I am a board member among many people dedicated to getting the CCA uop and running, funded, focused and effective. We can’t do it without everyone pitching in. The building of artificial reefs will be a cornerstone of what CCA-California looks to accomplish.
Our California chapter is already honed in on supporting the ocean stocking program of California’s Ocean Resources Enhancement and Hatchery Program. This not only stocks fingerling seabass but provides a great way for individuals to participate, to give back to our coastal waters by volunteering within the network of white seabass grow-out programs.
What’s more, ocean stocking of fish makes sure that our coastal ocean waters explicitly meet ALL parameters described in Article 1, the Declaration of Rights, section 25, of the California Constitution.
Section 25 gives the people the right to fish upon and from the public lands of the State and in the waters thereof. It prevents these tidelands from being transferred out of public ownership without reserving the public’s right to fish there. It also prevents local agencies from making laws that prevent the public’s access to fish any waters stocked by the State.
Don’t forget to join at the door for the Fred Hall show! For donating $20 extra, you will get free admission and a benefit package worth well over $150 in discounts at fellow CCA member’s exhibitor booths and raffle tickets.
But back to artificial reefs and their effectiveness. One of the key outcomes of the Marin Life Protection Act Initiative sponsored habitat mapping effort was the scientifically validated observation that rocky, especially high relief, reef habitat was extremely rare along our mainland coast.
The intentionally placed artificial reefs in our area are mostly very small, a few scattered bits here and there. In fact the biggest “artificial reefs” are unintentional, the rock revetment on pipelines, breakwaters, oil platforms and other coastal debris remaining from old oil piers.
One artificial reef, Wheeler North Reef, located just south of San Clemente Pier is quite large, covering 175 acres. However, it is a low-profile single-layer reef. Its intent was to provide a large area of kelp coverage, which it does. However, it does not hold the high densities of fish a more complex, high-relief structure would.
Aside from Wheeler North Reef, only the oil platforms were much studied. We at the Love Lab did the majority of that platform work. Our work was commissioned by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, in order to inform decision makers regarding the best ultimate fate for decommissioned oil platforms. Historically, complete removal was a legal requirement.
Among other things, we discovered that the 27 platforms were contributing an additional 20+ percent to the annual rockfish recruitment, Bight-wide! That’s pretty astounding for the very small area they comprise. We think their outstanding rockfish production stems from their being out in open water, extending high into the water column.
In October of 2010 the Rigs to Reefs bill passed, finally allowing for the option to decommission and reef old platforms when their service life had ended.
The granddaddy “artificial reef” of them all in SoCal. is the LA/Long Beach breakwater system. It’s basically a hollow, high relief structure extending from 10 fathoms deep, clear to the surface, and running for miles. Its contribution to our fisheries has not been assessed.
In my estimation the most valuable artificial reef system to SoCal’s. sport-angler is Izor’s. The number of angler hours spent at that tiny set of reefs, as a percentage of the total spent fishing the LA/LB Shelf area must be astounding.
Academically, the biggest artificial reef debate revolves around the “Production vs. Attraction” dilemma. Do they produce, or merely attract fish? The answer must certainly vary reef by reef and have to do with the level of fishing effort more than anything else.
The biggest problem for reef proponents politically is the promotion of the view that mere attraction is bad because over-fishing the reef can drain the entire local ecosystem of fish. But even if an artificial reef were populated primarily by attraction, that itself is not necessarily a bad thing.
Even if all that building a given artificial reef does is create a good fishing spot, isn’t that a positive outcome? The key is managing the entire local ecosystem surrounding the reef sustainably, and not abusing the enhanced fishing opportunity provided by the artificial reef.
From what I have seen Izor’s does both. It both produces more fish than there would otherwise be, and concentrates them, creating some great local fishing.
Again, if you are ging to the Long Beach or Del Mar shows, don’t forget to join for $30 at the door For donating $20 extra, you will get free admission and a benefit package worth well over $150 in discounts at fellow CCA member’s exhibitor booths and raffle tickets.
The Coast could use a whole lot more “Izors”! It’s pretty sad when the best ½-day fishing in many areas comes as result of city sewer construction. Who wants to have to admit their best local spot is the rock-pile holding down the local sewer pipe?
Merit McCrea is saltwater editor for Western Outdoor News. A veteran Southern California partyboat captain, he also works as a marine research scientist with the Love Lab at the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
A LOT MORE than just the fish we fish for benefit from artificial reefs, including this garibaldi, the California state marine fish, and all the other stuff growing here on platform Edith. Of course the big goat in the background is a welcome resident, too.