Restoration of a temperate reef: Effects on the fish community

The extraction of large boulders from coastal reefs for construction of harbours and coastal protection has led to habitat degradation for local fish populations through the destruction of cavernous reefs and changes in macroalgal cover resulting from a loss of substrate. The temperate reef at Læsø Trindel in Kattegat, Denmark, has now been re-established with the aim of restoring the reef’s historical structure and function. The effects of the restoration on the local fish community are reported here. Fishing surveys using gillnets and fyke nets were conducted before the restoration (2007) and four years after the restoration of the reef (2012). Species of the family Labridae, which have a high affinity for rocky reefs, dominated both before and after the restoration. Commercially important species such as cod Gadus morhua, and saithe Pollachius virens, occurred infrequently in the catches in 2007 but were significantly more abundant in the catches in 2012. Cods were especially attracted to the shallow part of the reef that was restored by adding stones. For some species, such as ballan wrasse Labrus bergylta, and cod, the proportion of larger individuals increased after the restoration. The findings highlight the importance of reef habitats for fish communities and the need for their protection.