3D Printed Artificial Reefs in the Atlantic Region (3DPARE)

Authors: Hall, A., Herbert, R. and Stafford, R.

Conference: Young Coastal Scientists & Engineers Conference

Dates: 14-15 May 2019


Given the multiple stressors facing the marine environment, and shallow reef systems especially, work to protect biodiversity of the oceans is crucial. Artificial reefs (AR) have been deployed around the world for decades for many purposes including habitat restoration, coastal protection, fisheries enhancement and recreation.

The 3DPARE project (www.3dpare.eu) aims to 3D print concrete artificial reef blocks to maximise marine biodiversity, however, little is known of the key features needed to maximise the benefits of artificial reefs. We conducted surveys of natural reefs and artificial structures in Poole Bay to determine key characteristics to include in these reef blocks, using SCUBA, photogrammetry and BRUV surveys.

The 2018 results from the UK showed similar patterns in species richness and abundance across the natural and artificial sites. However, community structure differed significantly with both depth and between natural and artificial structures, and while not perfectly correlated, mobile fauna varied more with depth, and benthic flora and fauna varied more with substrate type (artificial vs. natural).

The 3D printed AR units will include various habitats including holes, tunnels and overhangs of varying size and depth. Monitoring will focus on the specific AR unit features and how they attract marine life, and help maximise native flora and fauna assemblages.

Source: Manual