Nutrient Enhanced-Artisan Reefs

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Nutrient Enhanced-Artisan Reefs

Sydney, Costa RicaAustralia
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Artificial reefs have been used extensively around the world to enhance fish catch create habitat and regenerate damaged ecosystems. We have designed a reef that can be constructed and installed using local materials and labour that can increase fish production by marine compost of waste products.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The problem of food security for artisanal fisher communities has become a global issue due to overfishing, bad fishing practices and climate change. For many of the world's most vulnerable people living on coastal zones or islands fish is a particularly important and vital source of protein and micronutrients necessary for a healthy life. The solution proposed by this project will provide additional protein for these coastal communities.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The construction of a functioning nutrient-enhanced artificial reef together with the practice of marine composting will increase the local fish stocks, help to restore ecosystems which have been damaged by unsustainable fishing practices and reduce waste. The introduction of reusing waste products to provide a controlled amount of available nutrients within the reef will enable an increase in the productivity and sustainability of the ecosystem, thus further increasing the protein available to artisan fishing communities. This project will provide a model for many artisan fishing communities initially in the Costa Rica region but potentially throughout the developing world.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The impact of this solution to the community are: to provide an artificial reef that will serve to aggrigate fish to the area, recyling of waste materials via marine composting of waste products, increased fish production due to the enhanced nutrient availability retained in the reef structure. The methods used will be to a) have an initial briefing and site inspection, b) engage with the community through an information workshop to explain the concepts of the reef design and sustainable fishing practices and c) to design and implement a pilot project at the site. A study of the waste products available and methods for marine composting will be developed depending on availability of local materials.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Artificial reefs have been used extensively around the world to create fish habitat, regenerate damaged ecosystems and to enhance fish catch. We have designed a reef that can be constructed and installed using local materials and labour and that can increase the fish production as well as aggregate the fish. The ultimate aim is to recycle waste products to enhance fisheries production in artisan fishing villages. The objectives of this concept are novel and have the potential to provide additional protein to millions of people in coastal communities who rely on the fish they catch for day to day survival. By aggregating fish to the reef, the effort required per catch decreases because fisher people no longer have to travel long distances in search of fish. The concept of reusing waste products has the potential to increase the fish production by 1 pound for every pounds of waste.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The project will lead to a self sustainable asset, as it will be a system that the local community can take over and run at low cost using locally sourced materials. A workshop and education program to give artisan fishers management tools together with the promotion of the Food and Agricultural Organisations Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries to provide guidelines for continued sustainable fishing practices within the community.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The innovation of a nutrient-enhanced artisanal reef structure used together with marine composting is a novel concept combing the principles of aquaculture and artifical reef construction. The combination of marine composting to increase fish production together with the construction of a nutrient retaining reef to aggregate fish has not been done before. Recent experimental results show that controlled amounts of nutrients composted from food waste and beconcentrated inside a reef structure, aquaculture experiments confirm that feeding fish with these nutrients will increase fish production.

Founding Story

Helping coastal fisher communities using nutrient enhancement has been a long term goal of the Ocean Nourishment Foundation set up by University of Sydney Professor Ian Jones. This group has been investigating the concept of ocean nourishment to enhance fisheries production along with the abatement of climate change by stimulating primary production at the base of the food chain. One day his now retired trusted administrative assistant came up with the concept of using holding ponds for waste products to grow phytoplankton for nutrient enhancement of artificial reefs. Following flume and tank experiments and using a sewing basket for experiments on testing marine composting techniques myself, a colleague and volunteer are ready to go.
About You
Ocean Nourishment Foundation
About You
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About Your Organization
Organization Name

Ocean Nourishment Foundation

Organization Country


Country where this project is creating social impact
Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them
Nutrients For All
Where do you ensure the availability of nutrients?

Healthy environments..

If you had greater capacity, which additional sectors would you like your solution to target - either through expansion, partnership, or thought exchange?

Healthy environments, Human wellness and vitality.

How specifically would this added capacity help you improve the quality, efficiency, or sustainability of your existing product or service?

The added capacity would provide the research and prototype Nutrient Enhanced Artisan Reef to be completed including the experiments on marine composting and design of the artificial reef to retain these nutrients. The use of waste products for marine composting for the nutrient enhancement and sourcing local materials for building the reef structure will increase the quality and sustainability of this project. The efficiency of the fishing capacity of the artisan fishers will be increased by attracting the fish to the area.