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Socioeconomic Monitoring Program for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary - Recreation/Tourism

New Artificial Reefs

With the proliferation of new artificial reefs either planned or deployed in the U.S., a clear need for monitoring programs for these new reefs is emerging. Studies of the economic and ecological impacts of new artificial reefs are necessary to better understand the effects of these reefs and to inform subsequent reef deployment decisions.

In 2005, a study was completed on the effects of sinking the USS Spiegel Grove, which was sunk off of Key Largo in 2002. In 2011, a similar study was completed for the USS Vandenberg, which was sunk off of Key West in 2009. Monitoring programs for new artificial reefs in other parts of the country will subsequently be developed. These monitoring programs will likely include projects converting aging energy infrastructure to artificial reefs under the Rigs-to-Reefs policy of the Minerals Management Service (MMS).

Spiegel Grove

In 2001 NOAA began an effort to establish a monitoring program for the new artificial reef the USS Spiegel Grove. This effort involved collecting data from both before and after the sinking of the ship, which occurred in June 2002 in the waters off of Key Largo in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS). The study aims to assess the economic and ecological impacts of the establishment of this new artificial reef.

Specifically, the study investigates the hypothesis that introducing an artificial reef into a natural reef environment by sinking a decommissioned ship will result in a win-win situation for the local environment (reduced user pressure), the local dive charter industry, and the larger local economy. Using dive shop logbooks and on-water observation to derive estimates of total use on both artificial and natural reefs surrounding the site, the study compares the periods immediately preceding and following the deployment of the Spiegel Grove. The results indicate that the Spiegel Grove did indeed provide benefits to both the local economy and the local ecology. The full study is forthcoming in the Bulletin of Marine Science.

Results

Can Artificial Reefs Alter User Pressure on Adjacent Natural Reefs? Article in Bulletin of Marine Science (116K)

Technical Appendix (1.2 MB)

Factsheet (596K)


Vandenberg

In 2001, NOAA and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) set up a monitoring program for the new artificial reef the USS Vandenberg. As with the USS Spiegel Grove, this effort involved collecting data from both before and after sinking of the ship, which occurred in May 2009 in the waters off Key West in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This study aims to assess the economic and ecological impacts of establishment of this new artificial reef.

Specifically, the study investigates the hypothesis that introducing an artificial reef into a natural reef environment by sinking a decommissioned ship will result in a win-win situation for the local environment (reduced user pressure), the local dive charter industry, and the larger local economy. Using dive shop logbooks and on-water observation to derive estimates of total use on both the artificial and natural reefs surrounding the site, the study compares the periods immediately preceding and following deployment of the Vandenberg. The results indicate that the Vandenberg, unlike the Spiegel Grove, did not reduce user pressure on the surrounding natural reefs. Total use increased so much that use increased on both the artificial and natural reefs. The dive industry and the larger local economy received a tremendous boost, even while the general economy was facing a decline of almost 12 percent in total sales.

Results

The Economic Impact of the USS Vandenberg on the Monroe County Economy (341K)

Technical Appendix (448K)

Fact Sheet - Economic Impact (326K)

Fact sheet - Public Finance (693K)

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