- Since founding the Florida-based company in 1993,
Barber and his volunteer staff have deployed more than 30,000 Reef Balls
worldwide. Based on studies by Japan's Consolidated Reef Study Society,
the reefs could help add an estimated 4.25 billion pounds of new fish to
the world's oceans.
"There aren't a whole lot of things you can get
involved in and really make a difference," says Barber. "But Reef Balls
give people the opportunity to replenish coral reefs."
The company's respectable profits from its Reef
Ball mold rentals and sales ($400 to $6,250 per mold), plus the
royalties it receives from its 16 authorized contractors, are plowed
back into a foundation that provides free molds and grants to nonprofit
reef builders and researchers.
Seventy percent of Barber's business comes from
overseas, where widespread reef destruction has become epidemic. The
company has large installations off Oman, Malaysia, and the Dominican
Republic and is negotiating a test project in the Philippines that would
call for a million Reef Balls.
Barber is less optimistic about reef building in
the United States, citing restrictive regulations originally enacted to
protect the marine environment. "The permit process is designed to deter
reef building," laments Barber. "People who want to build reefs have no
idea what they're up against."
But that hasn't stopped Barber, who knows that he
has a long road ahead. "Our job won't be done until the reefs are
restored," he says. "To accomplish that, we either have to slow down the
destruction or speed up our construction process."
By Michael Menduno
Copyright 1998 by Islands Publishing Co. All rights