Artificial reefs’ ecological restoration and economic revitalization value depends on complex socio-bio-economic interactions

Artificial reefs (ARs) are one of the most popular means of revitalizing both marine ecosystems and coastal fisheries, particularly in developing countries.

However, ARs generate complex socio-bio-economic interactions that require careful evaluation.

This is particularly the case for ARs outside no-take zones, where fish might be subject to enhanced exploitation due to easier catchability.

A new interdisciplinary studies on how ARs impact fish and fishing yields, combining mathematical and sociological approaches.

Both approaches converge to confirm that fishery yields decline when ARs are exploited as if they were open access areas.

This situation typically occurs in areas with weak governance and/or high levels of illegal fishing activity, both of which are common in many developing countries.

To avoid these adverse effects and their associated ecological consequences, the study recommends prioritizing the onset of a long-term surveillance system against illegal fishing activities, and adapting design and location of the ARs based on both and local and academic knowledge, before the deployment of ARs.

Featured image is a map of the artificial reef off Yenne, Senegal, showing the seven fishing villages surveyed that regularly operate around the artificial reef.

See full study.

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