State to Expand Artificial Reef at Keawakapu on Maui

November 25, 2009, 5:11 PM HST · Updated November 26, 6:38 AM
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The state will be adding 1,500 concrete modules to Keawakapu Beach on Monday in an effort to expand an artificial reef located about a half mile offshore.

The public is asked to stay clear of the area as crews from the Department of Land and Natural Resources work to deploy the “Z” modules beginning at 9 a.m. Monday, November 30, 2009. The public will not be able to dive or fish on the artificial reef until the deployment is complete. DLNR Aquatics crews advise the public to say at least 300 yards away from the deployment site.

Image Courtesy DLNR.

Image Courtesy DLNR.

Keawakapu Artificial Reef was created in 1962. It is approximately 52 acres in size, and consists of 150 cars, 2,250 tire modules, 35 concrete slabs, and one vessel (the “St. Anthony”) was added in 1997. This is the first addition of concrete modules since 1990 to expand the reef.

The modules, constructed from concrete by Pioneer Machinery, Inc. will be loaded onto an American Marine barge and will be deployed in 60-120 feet of water. Each “Z”-shaped form measures eight feet long by four feet wide with 12-inch legs at each end facing in opposite directions, and weighs about 2,200 pounds (1.1 tons).

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Prior to and during the deployment of the “Z” forms, the target area will be marked with surface floats to warn fishermen, boaters, and divers to stay clear of the barge and the reef site, for safety reasons.

“New coral and seaweed will grow on the forms, which will provide additional habitat to new communities of reef fish,” said Laura H. Thielen, DLNR chairperson. “Artificial reefs increase potential fishing grounds for fishermen, and the cost to the State is minimal,” she said.

DLNR has four shallow water (50-100′) artificial reefs and one deepwater (300-420′) artificial reef. Three of the shallow water reefs are located off O’ahu at Wai’anae, in Maunalua Bay, and Kualoa. The fourth is located off Keawakapu on Maui. The deep water artificial reef is located off ‘Ewa Beach, O’ahu.

Numerous studies have shown that artificial reefs are effective at enhancing reef habitat, thus increasing fish biomass and species diversity within the reef site. Artificial reefs are key components in fisheries enhancement, as well as a substrate for the settlement of coral polyps (coral growth). Artificial reefs are also attractive SCUBA and snorkel dive sites.

(Posted by Wendy Osher; Information provided by the Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources)

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