The use of artificial reef for fisheries enhancement purposes
has been challenged by some academics. The controversy is known as the "aggregation/enhancement
debate". The debate is centred on the question, "Does the addition of habitat,
provided by an artificial reef, enhance a resource or cause it to be over-exploited?".
Experience in the Philippines has shown that deployment of surface artificial
reefs known as Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs), deployed to attract pelagic
fishes, in an open access fisheries has encouraged overfishing by small-scale
fishers. Academics nevertheless agree that bottom sited artificial reefs,
if deployed to facilitate recruitment of juvenile fishes, emplaced in areas
lacking hard bottom habitat and managed as "no-take" fisheries, can provide
an excellent and pragmatic resource management tool to protect and enhance
fisheries. In addition, there is no disputing artificial reef's ability to
protect important spawning and nursery grounds from the damaging impacts of
bottom trawling. It is an important low cost enforcement tool in our marine
parks where bottom trawling is prohibited.