The use of artificial reefs in the Arabian Gulf have a history extending back over a century, when date palm trunks, stones, pottery and other materials were sunk in coastal areas to enhance fish catch. Historically, such artificial reefs formed an important component of the socio-economic development of coastal fisheries. In comparison, modern artificial reefs have taken on a variety of forms. The most widely recognized are purpose-build modular artificial reefs designed for the enhancement of fisheries yield, diving, and various other benefits. However, far more common within the Gulf are the large-scale unplanned artificial reefs that have been formed as a result of human activities in the marine system, such as large-scale coastal breakwaters, seawalls, jetties, pipelines, and oil and gas infrastructure. Although there is limited information on the role of these constructions in structuring Gulf marine communities, increasing evidence suggests that abundant and diverse communities of reef fish, coral and other benthos can develop on these structures, with important ecological implications in urbanized coastal areas in the Gulf. However, due to a variety of unintended consequences of artificial reef development such structures may also pose challenges to coastal marine management. We review the current published literature on artificial reefs in the Gulf in order to improve our understanding of the role that these structures play in Gulf coastal ecosystems, and to further develop regional management of artificial reefs. We explore the various types of artificial reef that exist in the Gulf and examine the benefits and challenges that these structures represent for coastal ecology and economics. Such information is essential for our improved understanding and management of these increasingly important ecosystems in the Gulf.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law