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Living Harbours


Building with nature is becoming more and more prevalent for new infrastructure projects in the marine environment. We have deployed multiple solutions for ‘Living Harbours’ where port and harbour infrastructure is enhanced with marine ecology aspects to not only offset the impact of new construction but to provide a sustainable and productive ecosystem for the life of the structures.

In 2017, we built the largest living harbour project in the world at Port Coogee in Perth. Named Coogee Maritime Trail, the living harbour in Coogee fuses art and habitat – specially designed to recruit seaweed, coral, sponges, invertebrates and fish. This project demonstrated the ability for port owners to build back better, including fish-friendly features in the ports and marinas. They can also enhance local community experience and interaction with the port.  Furthermore, habitats like this can attenuate wave energy, increasing port operability whilst supporting the environment.

Port owners can now incorporate economically viable and environmentally sustainable solutions into their infrastructure, providing significant benefits for their shareholders, the local community and the environment.

What are examples of ‘Living Harbours’?

We have experience deploying purpose-built reef structures into breakwaters, marinas and ports to provide targeted enhancement of local marine flora and fauna. 

Our award-winning, Cooper Reef in the Port of Esperance restored complex habitat to Port Waters to support recreational fishing. See more detail at

The Innisfail Sea Wall project incorporated our Bombora Modules to create complex habitat for invertebrates in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

See our case studies below for more detail.

Are purpose-built reefs productive?

Purpose-built reefs are typically installed into highly modified systems. The habitat provided by them is both additive and restorative.  

Independent research by Curtin University and the University of Western Australia demonstrates that the abundance of fish increases by 6 times compared with natural reefs and that the natural reef populations are maintained.

What other benefits are derived from enhancing harbours and breakwalls?

Enhancing harbours and breakwalls with reef modules not only enhances local benthic production but also creates recreational diving attractions, recreational fishing and research opportunities for the local community. 

This provides an increased economy to the primary and secondary industry in the surrounding area such as dive operators, fishing charters, tackle shops, cafes and their associated infrastructure.

Also, the Coogee Maritime Trail has become a popular dive site for schools offering Outdoor Education and Marine Science.


Subcon has deployed purpose design reef structures in the lee side of breakwaters to provide targeted enhancement of local marine flora and fauna.

Subcon has extensive experience in enhancing recreational fishing harbours with reef modules to not only enhance local benthic production, but also provide recreational diving attractions to the local population. This provides increased economy to the primary and secondary industry in the surrounding area such as dive operators, fishing charters, boat ramps and the associated infrastructure.


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Case studies

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Featured case studies