Artificial reefs

In Australia the placement and construction of artificial reefs are regulated under the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 (Sea Dumping Act). Therefore, organisations wishing to create an artificial reef will require a sea dumping permit.

Artificial reefs are usually constructed for:

  • recreational use (e.g. scuba diving, fishing)
  • increasing or concentrating populations of marine plants and animals


Permits are necessary to ensure that appropriate sites are selected, materials are suitable and appropriately prepared, there are no significant adverse impacts on the marine environment and that the reef does not pose a danger to marine users.

Applicants must clearly demonstrate that the proposed project is appropriate for an artificial reef. Reefs may only be created for legitimate purposes (i.e. not waste disposal) and cannot pose a significant threat to users or surrounding environments.

The timetable for artificial reef projects is generally 12-18 months from the time of acquiring the vessel to the date of reef placement. Applicants are advised to begin liaison with the Department as early as practicable to ensure a comprehensive permit application is submitted and the material is adequately prepared.

Key phases in preparing a reef for placement and for preparing a sea dumping permit application include:

  • evaluation and securing of adequate resources
  • stakeholder consultations
  • site selection
  • material preparation
  • determining the method of placement
  • preparing for post-placement monitoring and management

Application forms and fees

Applications should be made on the appropriate permit application forms and must be accompanied by the aapplication fee