SEARM-FIT - Socioeconomic artificial reef monitoring: fisheries interaction with tourism


Artificial reefs (AR) have been deployed around the world and are used primarily to restore degraded habitats for commercial or recreational purposes. However, it is argued that an AR that does not serve people is not a useful reef. Normally, AR are financed by governments, because stakeholder groups individually neither gather enough resources, nor incentives to develop an AR project. As such, most users (individuals) benefit from AR as a public resource developed and managed by governmental agencies. Unless there is specific legislation to reef use, anyone can use it, either for fishing or recreational purposes. This leads to the “collective action theory”, where the publicly available resource - the AR - may not be successful in an efficient way. This phenomenon may generate AR congestion externalities, within or between commercial and recreational users that act as sole owners of a given reef. The objectives of different activities may be conflicting if using the same area. In an open access case, if the AR is well located – but not appropriately designed – some conflictual interests may occur. Adequate management here is of fundamental importance. Sometimes tacit arrangements can lead to achieve a compromise. Thus, a co-management arrangement is desirable, where the co-creation of a mutual system – based upon the Nash equilibrium – can be encountered. A co-management tactic is supported to maximize AR effectiveness, creating more sustainable use of marine resources in coastal communities. Deployment of AR in areas of sandy or muddy bottom between 15-40 meters deep occurred on the coast of the Algarve (Portugal) between 1998-2003. The objective was to increase resources for small-scale fisheries (outer modules - in deeper waters) and to promote ecotourism (inner modules - in shallow waters). Few studies include direct use of AR (commercial fishing and leisure-related activities). In the past (<2003), socioeconomic artificial reef monitoring research (SEARM) was labour intensive, time consuming, limited in space and costly. Field sampling - either via in situ questionnaires or direct observations - had many limitations. Currently, with the new paradigm of Industry 4.0 - cloud computing (>2006) and the internet of things (IoT) -, this sampling work is facilitated. Currently, a single person can create a questionnaire online - via cloud computing - that can be sent and received from and to any part of the world, to a large number of potential respondents. Likewise, at present time, a single person in a few seconds can obtain the whole picture on the AR use for a country-sized area, with unbiased metadata - via IoT - all at a very affordable cost. In the present project, the research team will carry out two tasks based on exploring these potentialities of Industry 4.0, namely online questionnaires to obtain information regarding the use (or non-use) of the resources promoted by the implementation of AR with the help of the potential of cloud computing and the monitoring of human activities – i.e., fishing and recreation – using the IoT. This project aims to take advantage of the use of an IoT tool for conducting SEARM research on AR deployed in mainland Portugal.


Partners: n/a

Researcher(s): Jorge Ramos (Principal Investigator/ CinTurs) and Francisco Leitão (CCMAR).

Budget: 49.912,60€

Funding institution(s): FCT – Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology

Period: 2023 - 2024


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