Subcon’s Living Coastlines Initiative is a live demonstration of how the habitat value of marina and port infrastructure such as jetties and breakwaters can be enhanced for both marine life and the local community. In an Australian first, Subcon have established the largest purpose built reef habitat to augment a breakwater. In 2016, Subcon in conjunction with the City of Cockburn and Lotteries West, fabricated and deployed 35 modules as part of their Living Coastlines Initiative. The project included the establishment of the Port Coogee Maritime Dive Trail which was made up of the existing Omeo Shipwreck and now continues through 250 metres of artificial reefs. The reefs are comprised of six modules, Reef Pyramid ™, Reef Matt ™, Apollo Clusters™, Abitat ™, starfish and seal statue which creates a complex marine habitat.
Dianne McLean, Todd Bond and Matt Hammond from the UWA Oceans Institute, with support from the WAITT Foundation, have conducted a detailed survey of the reef’s development. The UWA Marine Ecology Research team have extensive experience in conducting marine ecological surveys of this nature. They have pioneered the use of remote underwater stereo-video systems. The study has collected data on fish, invertebrate, macroalgae and seagrass communities at the reef installation site and at suitable nearby control sites to assess the change to these ecological communities over time. Fish are being surveyed using state of the art, lightweight remote underwater stereo-video systems (stereo-RUVs). Invertebrate, macroalgae and seagrass communities are being counted within quadrants (1 m x 1 m) at each location.
Matthew Hammond of UWA said “the Coogee Maritime Trail has created an excellent environment for examining the contribution of purpose built artificial reefs to improving the habitat value of Ports, Marinas and Breakwaters”. The research demonstrates a nett increase in the biodiversity of the marina breakwater and clear positive environmental contribution of the reef. South Fremantle Senior High and their Marine Biology students have also conducted recruitment and species counts. Subcon CEO, Matthew Allen said, “the establishment of the reef at Port Coogee is a terrific demonstration of how modern coastal infrastructure can be enhanced to improve its value to the local community and the environment. Our thanks are extended to Chris Beaton and Cockburn City Council who showed great vision in their support for this Dive Trail as it has opened opportunities for recreational snorkelling, diving and research that are accessible from the shoreline”.
Watch our video of the reef installation below.