Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, June 20, 2018

A conference organized by the Association Monégasque pour la Protection de la Nature (special thanks to Jacqueline Gautier-Debernardi and Jean-Marc Ferrie, AMPN, and to Robert Calcagno and his staff, Oceanographic Museum of Monaco) has be led by Patrice Francour (ECOMERS laboratory and former president of the Scientific Committee Prado Artificial Reefs, Marseille). It focussed on the first Monegasque artificial reefs to the latest reefs, printed in 3D, immersed in November 2017.

Monatage pour site Web ECOMERS réduit

The first artificial reefs date back to the 17th century and were submerged in Japan, the undisputed leader in this field. Today, throughout the world, they serve to preserve, restore and improve the coastal ecosystems and related ecological services. Described simply as submerged structures, positioned deliberately on the seabed, they aim to imitate certain characteristics of natural rocky habitats. In the Mediterranean the use of artificial reefs began during the 20th century but only increased in quantity after 2000. In Monaco the first artificial reefs used were those associated with the creation of the Larvotto marine reserve some 40 years ago. In France and Monaco artificial reefs principally provide the means to sustain artisanal fisheries or to restore damaged habitats. Generally speaking they have simple shapes, nothing complex architecturally and for the most part are made of concrete.

The recent increase in the use of artificial reefs has essentially been motivated by the extent of damage to the coastline and the need to find solutions to remedy the problem. But how can an ancient concept of artificial reefs made of concrete evolve to face such a challenge ?

Recent progress in technology has led to the idea of more complex designs of artificial reefs thanks to the use of 3D printing. Using natural materials, mainly sand from the Dolomite, has allowed the creation of ecological reefs. Thanks to the joint efforts of the Monegasque Association for the Protection of Nature, the Boskalis company and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, six 3D printed reefs were immersed in November 2017 in the Larvotto MPA: a first in the Mediterranean and in the world due to the size of the reefs. The research undertaken by international scientific teams (ECOMERS, BOREA, Boskalis, D-Shape) prior to this project in Monaco was original, innovating and advanced our knowledge in the field of artificial reefs, as much in terms of management (how to put in place a programme for submerging artificial reefs) as in scientific terms (which designs, what materials).

The full presentation can be dowloaded here in French.After the presentation, Elisabeth Riera, (PhD student in ECOMERS lab; her PhD subject deals with the 3D printed artificial reefs immersed in Monaco) and Enrico Dini have joined Patrice Francour to answer the questions of the audience. Enrico Dini, CEO of D-Shape (https://d-shape.com/) is the "father" of the giant 3D printer which printed the 3D ARs. He was also involved in the world first project of 3D printed ARs immersed in Bahrain in 2012.