Benthic artificial reefs as a means to reduce the environmental effects of cod mariculture in Skutulsfjörður, Iceland

D. Israel, C. Gallo, D. L. Angel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Artificial reefs (AR) have been deployed below commercial fish farms in tropical, subtropical and temperate marine locations in an effort to reduce some of the negative effects of aquaculture, and this study describes an AR deployment at a boreal site. This study examined the development and succession of two benthic communities on artificial reefs in the Icelandic fjord, Skutulsfjörður. Two plastic, triangle-shaped, porous artificial reefs were moored on the seafloor: a) below a cod farm and b) at a nearby reference site, and were monitored for 4 months, on a bi-weekly basis by SCUBA divers. Monitoring included both visual observations, mainly of the motile biota, and subsampling of the fouling community by removing pieces of plastic mesh that were attached to the reefs for this purpose. Diverse biological communities developed on the artificial reefs at both fish farm and reference sites; however, overall species richness, abundance and sessile species cover were consistently greater at the farm site. Although the biota recorded were typical boreal species, many of the same taxa observed in warmer waters, in similar studies, were found on these reefs. Artificial reefs are one of many options that may be considered to enhance the sustainability of coastal aquaculture, and we suggest that: a) ARs should be studied over the course of a year or more, and b) efforts should be made to consider how we may harvest the biota associated with the ARs for commercial use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-411
Number of pages7
JournalMarine Biodiversity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Artificial reefs
  • Fish farms
  • Iceland
  • Sustainable aquaculture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science


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