The Artificial Reef Consortium is formed from a group of professional bodies with a common interest in developing artificial reefs in the coastal waters of the South West of England.
It is hoped that a link will be formed between Plymouth University, the National Marine Aquarium, the National Marine Laboratory, and the Diving Centre based at Fort Bovisand.
The South West of England is regarded as having one of the finest marine environments in the UK. The coastal waters benefit from the rich nutrients that the gulf stream bring, which help to sustain a diversity of marine life.
The south west peninsula is also renowned for its extensive maritime history with several active ports along its coastline. As history shows, where there is shipping traffic there are also ship wrecks, and the coastline is littered with many of these.
The combination of the diverse marine life and ship wrecks have long attracted scuba divers to the south west, with a nationally recognised diving centre in Plymouth sound – Fort Bovisand, and the Diving Diseases Research Centre (DDRC) located at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth.
Many artificial reefs have been created around the world using a variety of materials, from demolition spoil, to scrap cars, from military tanks to commercial and naval ships. The benefit that these reefs bring to an area is many fold, some of the more obvious ones are to provide a habitat for marine life on an otherwise barren sea bed, and to provide a venue for divers that will reduce the stress on more historically important wrecks. The revenue that diving brings into the local economy can be quite substantial, and a new wreck in the Plymouth area will certainly help to maintain, and indeed promote, the recreational diving industry in the South West of England.
It is intended to promote the sinking of large ships, where the situation allows, to establish other artificial reefs to provide habitat for reef dwellers, study for academics, interest for scuba divers, and to help protect other more established, and historically valuable sites.