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Projects - Artificial Reef Projects

A number of artificial reefs have been created by the Marine Park since active management commenced in 1997. Some of these artificial reefs have been created for fishing purposes, and others for divers.

STENAPA Reef

The first artificial reef was created in 1997 for fishermen, due to the loss of fishing area when the Reserves were created, and is named ‘STENAPA Reef’. This reef is a collection of barge and tug boats that were sunk by Statia Terminal for the Marine Park. The reef is now heavily encrusted with algae, sponges, soft and hard corals, and it has attracted large numbers of fish and turtles so that is has become a popular dive site – particularly at night when divers see sleeping turtles - and has been marked with a dive mooring.

Charles Brown Wreck

In 2002, the Government of St. Eustatius in the Netherlands Antilles acquired its newest reef, the Charles L. Brown. The Charles Brown is a 100-metre long (320 ft) vessel previously used by US company AT&T for cable laying. It was originally constructed by a Napolese ship builder in Italy in 1954, and has travelled internationally for cable laying operations.

After having crossed many oceans, the vessel is being retired and it made its final passage to St Eustatius from Curacao (where it was inspected for sinking) in March 2003. At this point, the Charles Brown Committee was set up by the government to oversee the preparation and sinking of the ship. The Committee was comprised of the three island dive centres, Statia National Marine Park and the Tourism Office. The boat was prepared for sinking (cleaning, removal of oils and fuel, removal of hazardous waste), and it was sunk on 25th July. Sinking of the vessel had commenced on 21st when ballast, cable and fuel tanks were filled with sea water.
The sinking of the ship could not have been achieved without the assistance of many volunteers. In particular, the cleaning of the ship was done by staff and volunteers of St Eustatius National Parks (STENAPA), dive centres and the fire department. Statia Terminals removed all the fuel and oil from the ship and provided its tug boats to tow the Charles Brown to its final resting place. Mr Kees van Essen from Smit International (Rotterdam, NL) used his own vacation time to assist with, and supervise, the sinking. The project was also sponsored by Budget Marine in St Maarten.

The ship is now in a perfect resting place in 31 meters of water and just outside of the Marine Park. Within the past few years, many shoals of fish, as well as lobsters, rays and a hawksbill turtle have colonized the vessel, making it one of the most popular dive sites of the Marine Park.


Fishing Reef

The fishing reef was initiated following a meeting with local fisherman in February 2004; they requested that the Marine Park create an artificial reef designated solely for fishing, and not as a dive site. It was agreed at that meeting to locate the new reef at a depth of 75 feet, west of the Southern Marine Reserve. Following some equipment delays, the reef was finally completed in February 2006 with the sinking of a pipe, concrete mix barrel and the tug boat “Miss Cathy”. The Marine Park wishes to acknowledge the assistance provided by Statia Terminal in making this project possible.

Following a “settling-in” period of six months since the sinking of the last reef structures, a survey was conducted in August to assess the fish population at the new reef. It was found that both diversity and density of fish had increased when compared to the results of the survey conducted prior to the creation of the reef. Diversity increased from 14 to 18 species, and more than twice as many fish were recorded than in the initial survey.

The new species were observed in large numbers, in particular shoals of Bar Jack, Blue Tang, Striped Grunts and Horse-eye Jacks, all drawn to the area by the new reef structures. As had been agreed upon in 2004 this site is only used for fishing; there is no dive mooring attached, and the site is marked for fishermen by a small brown buoy.

It seems that the new reef is also attracting other marine life. Earlier this month local fisherman “Gordo” caught the largest lobster ever recorded in the Statia National Marine Park at this site; it weighed approximately seven pounds.