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Lobster (Homarus Gammarus) Movement On an Artificial Reef: the Potential Use of Artificial Reefs for Stock Enhancement

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In 1989 an experimental artificial reef, constructed with blocks made from stabilized coal-fired power station waste materials, was deployed in Poole Bay on the English south coast. A site was chosen on flat sandy seabed at a depth approximately 10 m below chart datum. Within a few weeks, research divers had observed lobsters on the reef, even though the reef blocks had been deposited on flat sand some distance (3 km) from the nearest natural reefs. Conventional tags were used in studies to investigate lobster movement around the reef structure between 1989 and 1992: 48% of the 114 individuals tagged have been recaptured at least once on the reef. Although a number of lobsters appear to have moved away from the reef altogether (16 of the reef-tagged lobsters have now been recaptured at a maximum of 15.7 km away from the artificial reef), one individual has now been observed on the reef for over 800 days. Lobsters colonized the new man-made structures quickly and many individuals have exhibited considerable long-term site loyalty. Artificial reefs may provide a method for long term lobster stock enhancement at specific sites, assuming habitat to be a major limiting factor on population size and structure.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Oceanography, University of Southampton, Southampton SO9 5NH, U.K.; 2: MAFF, Fisheries Laboratory, Pakefield Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk NR33 OHT, U.K.


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