Artificial reefs in the Caribbean : A need for comprehensive monitoring and integration into marine management plans

Hylkema, Alwin; Hakkaart, Quirine C.A.; Reid, Callum B.; Osinga, Ronald; Murk, Albertinka J.; Debrot, Adolphe O.


Caribbean coral reefs are in decline and the deployment of artificial reefs, structures on the sea bottom that mimic one or more characteristics of a natural reef, is increasingly often considered to sustain ecosystem services. Independent of their specific purposes, it is essential that artificial reefs do not negatively affect the already stressed surrounding habitat. To evaluate the ecological effects of artificial reefs in the Caribbean, an analysis was performed on 212 artificial reefs that were deployed in the Greater Caribbean between 1960 and 2018, based on cases documented in grey (n = 158) and scientific (n = 54) literature. Depending on the availability of data, reef type and purpose were linked to ecological effects and fisheries management practices around the artificial reefs. The three most common purposes to deploy artificial reefs were to create new dive sites (41%), to perform research (22%) and to support ecosystem restoration (18%), mainly by stimulating diversity. Ship wrecks (44%), reef balls