In small island states, interest in the development of artificial reefs has grown steadily over the past two decades. Furthermore, this concept has been proven to be a promising technique to increase and enhance fishing. Therefore, it fits well into programmes where development and management of marine food resources is concerned.

The creation of artificial reefs is not a recent activity since in the 18th century, this method was already being used by Japanese fishermen. Indeed, they immersed various shelters and put in place rafts in order to improve their catch. Throughout the past thirty years, hundreds of artificial reefs have been developed worldwide and research showed that small island states could draw some benefit from these reefs for their fisheries resources. Not only do these reefs increase the richness of the local marine life but they can also increase the catch of fishermen. They can also be used for the rehabilitation of habitats destroyed by natural forces or by human activities, and they also participate in the creation of reproduction zones. Attracted by their biological richness, they are frequently visited by divers which additionally constitute a considerable attraction for tourists.

However, it is important to note that such advantages cannot be simply procured by submersing solid materials in the sea. The success and survival of an artificial reef depends on efficient planning as well as a rigorous selection of sites. As such, just like a pearl gently develops around a nucleus, an artificial reef will be the foundation of a rich ecosystem.

The creation of artificial reefs in Mauritius began in 1981. When it came to materials, old barges and fishing boats that were abandoned in the port were chosen. Being both solid and voluminous, these materials were ideal to introduce into the sea in upwelling zones, which support the benthic and pelagic fishes. However, the utilisation of boats as artificial reefs requires lengthy preparation: thorough cleaning of vessels and the cutting of wedges and waterproof shells, to facilitate sinking. These operations and towing to sites sometimes involve a high cost for which funding is not always easy to find.

However, the success of the Mauritian example in the creation of artificial reefs with old ships has been such that, it was accredited for an international recognition in 1994 and was awarded the second prize of the Grand Prix International de l`Environnement Marin. The ecological richness of most of the Mauritian artificial reefs leads to the hope that such projects will be developed in the surrounding region. The MMCS is ready to share its knowledge and expertise in this field and hope that the island will not only be known for its shipwrecks of the past centuries, but also for its old scuttled wrecks, which along with taking a well-deserved retirement, have today become a source of life for marine animals.

The aim of this page is to give a glimpse on the concept of creation of artificial reefs in Mauritius. The history of each reef is completely detailed and the progress of the scuttling is described in the form of newspaper article extracts.

The MMCS wishes to thank all those who have helped in the various scuttling activities. First of all the Mauritius Marine Authority, without whom it wouldn't have been possible to obtain neither the raw materials nor the logistical support. Shelland Caltex for their invaluable help during the pumping up of hydrocarbons. The MMCS also wishes to thank Securiclean who helped a lot in the cleaning process. Thanks to all MMCS members, those forming part of the Mauritius Underwater Group (MUG), who were always present, as well as those of the Mauritian Scuba Diving Association (MSDA). Thanks also to all those whom have not been mentioned here.