As part of Council’s project to improve the fish habitat and promote positive, lawful recreational fishing in West Lakes 12 new artificial reefs were deployed into the waters of the lake in December 2016.
The project received funding from the South Australian Recreational Fishing Grants Program. To ensure the success of the project RecFishSA and the City of Charles Sturt worked together on the design and implementation of the reefs.
The floating reefs are world first, and were designed specifically for lake, which has a soft sediment that could otherwise bury conventional reef structures over time.
Through an ongoing partnership RecFish SA and the City of Charles Sturt successfully deployed the 12 artificial reef units into the inlet side of West Lakes. The reefs are expected to promote the health of the lake and improve the fish habitat with a likely increase in fish numbers within the lake.
The new reefs have been strategically placed to increase positive fishing from Inlet Reserve and increase the fish population in the lake. Currently there is a fish cleaning station a playground and public toilets all available at Inlet Reserve making it an ideal family fishing location.
Two contrasting styles of fish habitat were chosen in order to increase biodiversity and test if local species prefer a certain design.
Both designs provide not only juvenile fish habitat but also food generating surfaces that will support a range of sessile organisms such as oysters and sponges and mobile organisms such as small shrimp and crabs.
The largest unit is a fish tower (1.3m high x 0.7 to 1.6m wide) comprising of a myriad of openings that fish can enter and exit to avoid predators. Five of the six units have horizontal 'wings' like awnings protruding from the side as some fish like the shade and to hide underneath from diving predators such as cormorants. The Fish Tower is also long enough to reduce the chance of territorial disputes and a single fish claiming rights and keeping other fish away.
The Fish Urchin resembles a long spined urchin (1m x 1.3m), comprising of over 20 sand coated composite rods and recycled plastic plates for protection and colonisation. This unit will suit the smaller fish and oysters.