Kate Reeds.JPG
Kate Reeds
Masters Candidate
Contact details:
+61 2 9024 7058

Sydney Offshore Artificial Reef – Benthic Gradient Study

In October 2011, NSW DPI deployed a purpose built artificial reef offshore of Sydney with the aim of improving recreational fishing opportunities in the region.  The structure was deployed offshore of South Head, approximately 1.2 km east of ‘The Gap’ in 38 m of water on a soft sandy substratum.  The offshore artificial reef (OAR) unit is the first and largest of its kind to be designed, built and deployed in Australia for the purpose of recreational fisheries enhancement. 

It has been demonstrated that artificial structures such as the Sydney OAR have potential to influence adjacent soft sediment assemblages in several ways such as direct loss or alteration of infaunal assemblages, changes to sediment characteristics, altered wave and current patterns, increased predation, organic enrichment of sediments and leaching of contaminants from corrosion of the  structure itself. As yet, studies have not been undertaken to investigate the impacts of the Sydney OAR on surrounding soft sediment assemblages.  This study aims to investigate whether the deployment of the OAR is influencing the benthic environment adjacent to and up to 240 m beyond the structure.  It will also aim to investigate the causal processes by which any patterns in benthic infaunal assemblages observed are being structured. The study will involve the collection of benthic sediment samples at varying distances from the reef.  Indicators that will be measured include taxon abundance, taxon richness, particle size distribution, concentration of TOC, metals and ORP. Multi and univariate statistics will be used to determine patterns in distribution/concentrations; and relationships between infaunal assemblage structure and the physico-chemical environment.


Professor Emma Johnston

Professor Iain Suthers