March 22 2007

A Good Thing or Just More Junk in the Ocean?

by Surfrider Foundation

260-foot Cargo Ship Becomes Palm Beach County's Newest Artificial Reef

Known lately as the Korimu, the 260-foot cargo ship became another artificial reef off the coast of Palm Beach County on Friday after the county's Department of Environmental Resources Management sank it nearly three miles northeast of the Lake Worth Inlet.

"There's no evidence that those kinds of reefs increase the productivity of fish," said David White, the Southeast Atlantic regional director of the Ocean Conservancy, which promotes ocean protection. "They leave their natural habitats and go there, so it's good for fisherman, but not necessarily good for the fish."

During the 15 years the county has run the artificial reef program, it has created more than 60 artificial reefs from sunken vessels and created mitigation reefs, made from limestone boulders or concrete, in the Lake Worth Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee, Bates said.

Though Palm Beach County Surfrider Foundation director Tom Warnke said artificial reefs could also create a draw for tourism, he warned against mitigation reefs, which are usually built to compensate for the loss of inshore reefs by a dredge or beach renourishment project.

"The artificial reef program the county has is a model for the rest of the country," he said. "[This ship] has created an interesting dive."