In coastal communities, human activity has had a negative impact on marine environments. Pollution and overfishing have damaged ocean wildlife, while reef damage has left coastlines vulnerable to strong waves and erosion. However, Dutch startup Reefy has introduced artificial reef blocks that can solve both problems, according to Fast Company.
Artificial reefs have been installed by businesses and local governments to provide shelter for marine life. These structures are often made of recycled trash to make the project more eco-friendly. However, they are often too delicate to provide adequate shelter for coastline protection and may fall apart, leaving behind trash. For instance, the Osborne Reef in Florida, made of used tires, came apart and damaged nearby coral.
Moreover, tire reefs are not beneficial as coral won’t grow on toxic tires and fail to provide wildlife shelter due to their shape.
Meanwhile, breakwaters are built to protect coastlines from strong waves and erosion but are not conducive to local marine life. Reefy’s artificial reefs have solved this issue by having strong, heavy, interlocking blocks that can withstand powerful waves and ocean currents.
Additionally, their textured surfaces are ideal for shellfish to anchor to, and the holes in each block provide shelter for other sea creatures while letting water flow through. As a result, they protect coastlines and help restore wildlife populations. These blocks are also made from “low-carbon concrete,” which means they are produced without releasing much heat-trapping gas into the atmosphere.
The blocks are currently being tested in Rotterdam, Netherlands, which has been attempting to restore the sea habitats in its waterways for the last decade. The idea behind the blocks is to provide the foundation for nature to take over and have a living layer that can grow with sea level rise and self-heal to attract key species.
“We can start the conditions for nature to start developing, and then nature will do the job after that,” said Reefy CEO and co-founder Jaime Ascencio.
Reefy is also planning projects in Mexico and a second Netherlands installation in the North Sea around offshore wind turbines.