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Artificial Habitats

The loss of oyster bars and Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) has decreased fish and invertebrate production in the St. Lucie Estuary. Artificial habitats can provide a substrate to increase juvenile fish and invertebrate production and water quality benefits. The creation of these artificial habitats could provide immediate benefits.  
The following are potential artificial habitat types:

  • Artificial SAV
  • Old oyster shells (cultch)
  • Prefabricated reef (such as Reef Balls)
  • Artificial reef made from scrap concrete
A plan is being developed by the estuary sub-team to determine the placement location, amount and type of material to be used for artificial habitats. The valued ecosystem component (VEC), which constitutes the specific biotic resources for which an estuary is managed, will guide where the material is placed.  
The following are assumptions and related considerations:  
An unacceptable time period lag is possible between the implementation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan components for a more natural salinity envelope and the ecological response of the indicator organisms, SAV and oysters. The Chesapeake Bay restoration has displayed that this lag can be from five to 15 years. Artificial habitats could help to reduce some of this time lag and more rapidly facilitate a productive estuary.  
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