In 2007 a resource consent was gained that allowed REAF to deploy 'marine enhancing ' materials on otherwise featureless sandy mud silt area of seabed that is typical of much of the vast seabed area around New Zealand.
At that time we were focused on establishing more fish and greater diversity in an otherwise poor ecology area of seabed. Against a backdrop of sharply rising petrol prices and declining fish stocks the concept of establishing an easily accessible Community Reef was born.
In conjunction with an Environment Bay of Plenty Enhancement Funding grant, and with the involvement of community groups some six reefs were deployed. Over the years the initial deployments have proven stable and useful to both marine life and local fishermen. There is room for 800 more reefs.
While reef deployment is still at the core of what we do, our focus and reasons for doing so has evolved and we are now able to offer many more related services.
Just as our modules and deployment techniques have evolved, so too has our vision on what a community reef is capable of achieving. A key part of community being 'unity', is seen as an essential ingredient in addressing current marine and environmental issues facing mankind.
When giving back to the sea via reef deployment many report a shift in consciousness. Similarly astronauts in outer space report a phenomena which has become known as the 'Overview Experience'. For so long our relationship with the sea has been characterized by hunting and taking. Now REAF offers a portal for you also to be able to give back.
In the simple act of giving back to the sea the giver realizes his oneness with our environment (that is, we are not separate to it). This simple deed will in turn lead to new ways of doing things reflecting a partnership with nature.
We have set a benchmark of building and deploying and entire 'Legacy REAF', whether by sole sponsorship or by working with others, as a starting point where partnership with nature is consolidated.
This remains a grass roots effort and your participation is what can carry the concept forward. It is solely financed from reef module sponsorship, REAF sales and workshop attendances.
Volunteers from around the world help with reef deployment. We believe involvement in the community reef project offers its own empowering shift in awareness. It is the how we do things that sets us apart.
Opotiki on the East Coast of New Zealand is only a starting place for a man initiated community reef concept but this could just as easily be replicated anywhere around the globe .
Perhaps because Opotiki is known as one of New Zealand's lowest socio economic towns with all the associated manifestations of poverty, it is a good place to start and work for positive change.
The knowledge and skills gained from workshops can be transferred to create a richer personal life, help empower organizations and enhance marine life.
As the old adage goes,
'We can tell you about it, but you might forget,
We can show you, and you may remember some,
But if we involve you, then you will understand.'
Phone or email us to find out more.
Surely there's plenty of fish in the sea?
Catches of wild fish have been declining worldwide now for decades and in some cases species populations have suffered non linear catastrophic collapse. (e.g. Atlantic Cod, South American anchovies)
Do man initiated reefs actually grow more fish or merely attract them?
Alabama with the worlds largest permitted reef area has been deploying artificial reefs for 50 year and now calculates annual catches of red snapper that are 10 times what they were 100 years ago.
But surely declining fish numbers is a problem for fishermen to solve?
If you eat seafood then it's your problem too. There are things you can do to help.
Man is very clever at rising to challenges. Aren't aquaculture and fish farming the way of the future?
Fish farming may one day be looked upon as we now view battery hens. Fish farming often relies on huge harvest of smaller fish. The fish are often fed supplements, antibiotics and have higher lice populations. They cannot claim to be organically raised.
While aquaculture and fish farming will always have a place in meeting a demand, surely our real challenge is to work in partnership with nature so that a resource is not depleted but enhanced.
Our shoreline is rocky and provides good habitat for marine life. Why do we need to bother with reef building?
Deploying reefs in already good habitat areas is not what we do. Our first New Zealand reef was deliberately chosen to be established in an area identified as being of very poor ecology. Much of our NZ seabed is in fact of this type.
Over pinning our practical efforts in reef building is a vision of building our relationship with the marine environment, so that even those of you fortunate to live close to areas of good habitat might learn new skills and attitudes that help grow seafood abundance levels.
Surely this is a very localized effort. What good is it that someone from far away gets involved?
Our reefs are not just about concrete but also about imbuing a life enhancing 'spirit' (Maori 'wairua') back into the ocean. This can be done via sponsorship over the internet. Well over 50% of our reef material deployed has been personalized in some way. Each module is unique. For so long we have regarded the sea as a place of take. By sponsoring a module or entire reef system you are making a statement that you care and are prepared to do something. The ocean needs your positive energy to regenerate its' essential life force. (Maori : mauri) The community reef is located in open ocean currents that encircle the globe.