Citizen science to help provide valuable insights into artificial reefs

  • BHP and Recfishwest form a community partnership to expand Reef Vision program
  • The McGowan Government is committed to habitat enhancement to improve fishing
  • WA has six artificial reefs, with another planned off Perth's northern metro coast 
  • Fisheries and Science Minister Dave Kelly has welcomed a new community partnership that has seen BHP throw its support behind Recfishwest's world-first citizen science program.

    Reef Vision will now continue for the next two years, with a special focus on analysing the development of King Reef off the Exmouth Coast.

    King Reef (Australia's first integrated artificial reef) was deployed in July last year and is now providing a safe and accessible recreational fishing opportunity in one of Western Australia's most iconic fishing destinations.

    Research shows it's already home to more than fifty fish species. More than half of the species identified on the reef so far are valued by recreational fishers; including juvenile red emperor, mackerel, rankin cod, coral trout and spangled emperor.

    Through Recfishwest's Reef Vision, community members drop cameras onto artificial reefs to monitor the development of growth and fish species that call the reefs home. Recognised on the world stage, Reef Vision is a key component to Recfishwest's Artificial Reef Program, with more than one hundred volunteers State-wide gathering hundreds of hours of underwater footage of places never seen before.

    King Reef was deployed in a collaboration between the McGowan Government, Recfishwest, BHP, NERA (National Energy Resources Australia), Subcon and Curtin University. It had support from the Western Australian State Government, through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.

    While BHP and Recfishwest have successfully expanded and extended the Reef Vision program, it couldn't be done without the support of the local Exmouth community, particularly Exmouth Game Fishing Club, Tackle World Exmouth, Exmouth Tackle and Camping Supplies and Ningaloo Car and Boat Hire.

    As stated by Fisheries and Science Minister Dave Kelly:

    "Artificial reefs have an important role to play in WA's oceans and it's great to see this new BHP and Recfishwest partnership exploring the scientific opportunities these new marine habitats provide, with the local community.

    "Through the new partnership the aim is to gather more than 100 hours of video per year from King Reef, to provide valuable insight to how quickly the reef is developing into a healthy and productive marine ecosystem. 

    "Recreational fishers are passionate about their aquatic environment and with thriving fish habitats comes more abundant fish stocks - a win-win for the environment and the community.

    "Pelagic species like school and Spanish mackerel, and tuna have already been seen on the Reef Vision cameras and even several sailfish have been caught on the Exmouth reef, weeks before the traditional sailfish season.

    "With more than 50 species now calling the Exmouth reef home in less than a year, it's WA's fastest developing artificial reef and the Reef Vision citizen science volunteers have been integral to tracking development of the reef."