A Perspective of the Importance of Artificial Habitat on the Management of Red Snapper in the Gulf of Mexico
Robert L. Shipp, Department of Marine Sciences, University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama
Stephen A. Bortone, Minnesota Sea Grant College Program, Duluth, Minnesota

Currently, snapper populations around artificial reefs in the north-central and northwestern Gulf support the majority of the U.S. harvest. If habitat is limiting, the designations of “overfishing” and “overfished” may be misleading, and “unrealized harvest potential” may be a more accurate descriptor of the current status of the stock given the increased presence of additional habitat for red snapper. Decreases in these artificial structures (owing to natural degradation or removal) may decrease future harvest potential.

A Review of the Ecological Performance and Habitat Value of Standing versus Reefed Oil and Gas Platform Habitats in the Gulf of Mexico
By Dr. Greg Stunz, Ph.D.
Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies – Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi
Dr Daniel M. Coffey Ph.D.
Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies – Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi

Questions surrounding the ecological value of standing and reefed platforms fall within the broader attraction versus production artificial reef debate. A key finding from numerous studies are that these two alternatives of attraction versus production are not mutually exclusive and operate along a continuum as some species may be merely attracted to artificial structures, whereas other species may benefit from increased secondary production.

Effects of a New Artificial Reef Complex on Red Snapper and the Associated Fish Community: an Evaluation Using a Before-After Control Impact Approach
By Matthew K. Streich
Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi
Matthew J. Ajemian
Florida Atlantic University, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

Artificial reefs are commonly created with the goal of enhancing fish populations. However, many studies evaluating their effects on these populations have been hindered by a lack of preconstruction data from existing natural habitats and temporal comparisons with control areas. Here, we present findings from a before–after control–impact study designed to assess the effects of a new artificial reef on fish populations in the western Gulf of Mexico.