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.
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.
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