Call for recreational fishers to help scientists monitor artificial reefs

Call for recreational fishers to help scientists monitor artificial reefs

RECREATIONAL fishers in Peel and the South West can help scientists monitor the artificial reefs off the coast to ensure they are supporting marine life effectively.

Murdoch University researchers are looking for volunteers to drop and retrieve Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVS) on artificial reefs off Mandurah, Bunbury and Dunsborough for the Reef Vision project.

The footage collected will be analysed to see what species the reefs are capable of supporting and how their abundance and diversity changes as the reefs grow and develop.

Project leader James Tweedley from Murdoch University said fishers could drop off the BRUVS on their way to and from fishing spots.

On their return home they simply needed to download the footage and send it back to the Reef Vision team.

“These reefs are designed to benefit recreational fishers by concentrating the species they want to catch like pink snapper, trevally and samson fish,” Dr Tweedley said.

“But the only way we can check they are working is by monitoring them.

“The Reef Vision project is a cost-effective way of involving the community in this endeavour.”

The Mandurah artificial reef was deployed in April 2016, while the reefs in Geographe Bay near Dunsborough and Bunbury were positioned in 2013.

Each reef is made up of 30 ten tonne concrete modules placed in groupings of five.

Using the BRUVs, citizen scientists monitored the reefs in Geographe Bay from October 2015.

Footage collected helped Murdoch researchers identify more than 30,000 individual animals from 83 different species including sharks, rays, molluscs and even a turtle.

“We now want to see how populations on these reefs have grown and developed since the last monitoring period, and compare these reefs to the newer Mandurah ones,” Dr Tweedley said.