Artificial reefs: garbage into gold?

The USS Oriskany, a stalwart aircraft carrier was sunk by navy divers today off Pensacola, Florida as the nation’s newest and biggest artificial reef. The sinking is part of a new navy program that is riding the wave of support for making artificial reefs from things like oil rigs, subway cars, cremated human remains, and such rubbish as old tires.

The idea is that adding “structure” will help fish and ocean ecosystems, and also provide new places to fish and dive.

Concerns have been raised about potential harm, including leaching of toxic materials and the possibility that artificial reefs are really more about improving fishing and creating underwater tourist sites by concentrating fish and making them easier to catch or look at.

Can this really be a win-win scenario of garbage into gold? Maybe, but I worry that it will turn into another example of well-intentioned but misguided promises of benefits for fish.

Check out for more on fish, oceans and conservation.

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