Exmouth Integrated Artificial Reef

Image: NERA joined fellow project participants and Senator Dean Smith for the official reef installation in July 2018.

Industry: .Oil and Gas

Knowledge Priority: .Optimise the regulatory framework

State: .WA

About the Project

The $1 million Exmouth Integrated Artificial Reef is a unique project that will enhance marine habitat and recreational fishing opportunities by creating Australia’s first integrated artificial reef and the largest purpose-built reef habitat in Western Australia.

Through NERA’s funding and industry support, world-leading technology and research has been developed to create a brand new marine habitat for the Exmouth Boat Harbour inside Exmouth Gulf and will provide the community with new, safe and accessible fishing opportunities for many decades to come.

What makes this project so unique is the reef is partially made up of reproposed offshore structures from the oil and gas industry. NERA has worked with our project partners including Subcon, Curtin University, BHP and RecFishwest to develop the special combination of materials that make up the reef design.

A careful combination of repurposed steel integrated with concrete structures forms the foundation of the reef. A total of 58 reef modules ranging in height from one to 10 metres are being placed in a specific formation across two acres on the ocean floor. Six steel tanks will form the key stones of the reef. These tanks were buoyancy modules which have been retired from an offshore facility operated by BHP. The tanks have been thoroughly cleaned and sand blasted and prepared in a special facility, then cut and modified with additional habitat features to complete their make over into FishTowers.

The FishTowers will create habitats that are similar in design to existing steel reefs that have been deployed at Moreton Bay, Sydney Harbour and Rottnest Island.

Link to fact sheet

Project impact

Integrated artificial reefs provide multiple benefits to their communities through habitat enhancement and restoration, as well as recreational fishing and employment opportunities.

The project will also build understanding around the viability and effectiveness of artificial structures to provide industry, regulators and the community with a level of confidence around the benefits and impacts of various artificial reef structures and inform new solutions for repurposing offshore assets in the future.

Project Update: August 2018

NERA is pleased to confirm that the Exmouth Integrated Artificial Reef was successfully installed in early August 2018. This major project milestone was achieved on schedule and is a fantastic achievement for the project partners. The reef has been officially named by the community as 'King Reef'.

Project Funding

Total Project Cost: $1,000,000

  • NERA: $500,000
  • Industry: $500,000

Project Timeframe

Start: February 2018

End: July 2018 (Site installation)

October 2019 (Final project report)

Project Members