At this time, the focus is on monitoring existing artificial reefs within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to determine their long-term effects on the natural ecosystem as opposed to initiating new projects

diver on the Vandenberg

The development of artificial reefs is prohibited within national marine sanctuaries due to regulations that prohibit placing items or depositing materials on the seafloor. Since 1997, when Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary regulations became effective, four large artificial reef projects (ships) have been permitted in the sanctuary. These projects have conditions regarding the type of material, the location, and the need for strict monitoring of changes in the natural ecosystem as well as human behavior related to use of artificial and natural reefs.

As a general policy matter and consistent with the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries emphasizes protecting and, where appropriate, restoring and enhancing natural habitats, populations, and ecological process as opposed to constructing human-made “habitats.”

New projects may be proposed and they will be reviewed fully and objectively on a case-by-case basis, but at this time, the primary focus of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is to monitor existing artificial reefs.

More Artificial Reef Facts