National Nine News
Hooking fish could become easier in New South Wales with the early success of
an unusual artificial reef program.
Scientists are monitoring fish activity around hundreds of submerged concrete
domes which could eventually be used to build a reef in the ocean off Sydney.
National Nine News was given an exclusive tour of one of the experimental
reefs located in Lake Macquarie, south of Newcastle.
Matt Coble and I were guided by reef researchers seven metres below the surface
to the strange city of domes. The water was murky and the domes — or "reef
balls" as they are called — were covered with a coat of algae.
caused the fish to disperse, but after a few minutes schools of bream returned.
Prior to the construction of the artificial reef the bottom was silt and sand
and offered lean pickings for fishermen. Now a variety of sea life have moved
"We're seeing some unusual fish, some pelagic fish like amberjack and yellow
tail king fish that, this far into the lake, we really didn't expect," said
researcher Heath Follt.
Because of the cloudy water scientists are using a new underwater camera
called a Didson to monitor the evolution of the reef.
Like an ultrasound machine the camera uses sound waves to create a picture of
the reef and any fish that take up residence.
Reef balls were also used in the ocean off Phuket
in Thailand to encourage the recovery of marine life after the 2004 tsunami.
Hundreds of the reef balls have been dropped into Lake Macquarie and at
another experimental site in Botany Bay.
"We're very confident these artificial reefs will make a difference," said
NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald.
Lake Macquarie fishermen say they already have.
"You can go there any time of day or night and pull fish," said charter boat
operator Brad Minors. "It's helping tourism."