Multipurpose Artificial Reef with ASR

ASR Ltd. is a global company that is pioneering environmentally sensitive and innovative solutions for coastal protection and artificial reef construction.

At least that’s what the ASR website has to say about themselves.

We first came across this company while reviewing a few videos on Vimeo and thought,

  1. what a fantastic job they’ve done for India
  2. When can they start putting these reefs in elsewhere?

As we looked into it a little further we could see that there was many stories about the good work the ASR team had done. Surfer Mag has a feature about the Indian wave in Kovalam. They talk about the reef built in El Sugundo in California being a flop, but that Narrowneck, Australia’s human-born reef, a great triumph becore going on to say ASR had completed another successful reef in Bournemouth.

Those last two comments got me thinking that these articles may not be right on the money.

Firstly, Narrowneck has had some mixed reports since project was started and completed. Surfing Ramps writes quite a good overall review of Narrowneck, so I won’t worry about going over something that’s already done.

Secondly, I was in Bournemouth the other week and while the swell wasn’t enormous, what was there was certainly not benefiting the surfers here.

After asking a few of the locals around Bournemouth it was clear, at least from the surfing community, that the Bournemouth ASR project is deemed a massive failure.

I went on to read another article from Surfer Magazine which again had the Kovalam Indian Reef in high regard, but taking a closer look at the comments from the people affected provided a different story.

Of course these are just comments on a story, however comments are the voice of the people in the real world and are often a good showing of the real feeling in the community.

Some of the comments included,

Some points of clarification: 1) This particular beach at Kovalam does not have an erosion problem. The reef is for surfing. 2) Both the Narrowneck and Bournemouth reefs are failures – they dont produce good waves as promised – read the surfer forums not the ASR propaganda. 3) Opunake and Mt Maunganui Reefs in NZ dont provide quality surf waves either and most of the locals want them removed. 4) ASR reef bags are made from woven plastic, and the NZ reef bags are now tearing and generally breaking up. There is a marine pollution hazard looming. 5) If you placed old car bodies in the ocean you would get way more than 200 species colonising them. By comparison the plastic bag reefs are homogeneous and just create an ugly monoculture, hardly the ecological enhancement that ASR promote. 6)ASR’s reefs have been oversold and they just dont work

but is then immediately questioned by someone who is for the reef.

clarifying the clarifier: 1)Kovalam Beach does have an erosion problem. The Kovalam Reef is primarily a shore protection structure. 2)ASR did not build Narrowneck. ASR designed Narrowneck and the reef was never built to full design specifications due primarily to the construction method used. The Narrowneck issue is complicated by the hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of sand fill that was also placed on that beach. Narrowneck is primarily an erosion control and beach stabilization structure and it has performed well in that capacity. Search the scientific literature on that, it exists. 3)As for The Mount Reef, contractors were unable to build to the design specified by ASR. That is the primary reason that it does not work as good as it should. However it does work at time and it is ridden when it does. 4)The geotextile containers used for most marine applications, including submerged reefs and breakwaters is a non-woven material. A woven material was used on Pratte’s Reef and it disinte
4) (continued) No containers on the Mount, Boscombe or Narrowneck have split or are otherwise breaking up. Go have a look for yourself. 5) Do you have any supporting evidence that rusting car bodies underwater will support more than 200 new species? The colonization aspect is a fortunate by product of this particular type of construction. Other designs can optimize this aspect if desired, i.e. ReefBalls, which are way better than rusty cars. 6)Reefs work better with larger volumes and sizes. The reefs that have been built so far have been approximately 1/10 the size of traditional coastal structures such as jetties, groynes or other breakwaters. When one is permitted and funded at a different size and scale, the results will be much better.

We came across the Multi-Purpose Surf Reef Feasibility Study Report which was created by Coastal Tech as an independent unbiased body.

I think the final review of Indias reef is best covered by Pan K and SteveF plus a bunch of other comments from interested parties in Surfer Mags other review of India First Artifical Reef…Works (although apparently it doesn’t)

What is your opinion? Should we be building artificial reefs and help waves or stop erosion? Should the focus be on improving marine life? Should we all just leave the Ocean to it’s own devices, and if a perfect wave decides to move 100km down the coast and leave the hotels built around it behind then why should be try and stop it?

Leave us your comments, and subscribe to here more about what the world thinks of artificial reefs.


  1. the issue is not about reefs. its about being able to design and build affordable sucessfull and sustainable ones. The evidence at the moment is that holy grail is unattainable. It not an office multifunction printer in an office environment!

  2. Considering an artificial reef a success or not comes down mostly to subjective analysis as to what an artificial reef should or should not be capable of. If an artificial reef produces surfable waves at all, I don’t know why people don’t consider it a success.

    Individuals who tend to detract from the potential of artificial reefs, whether it be anonymous posters or Surfrider’s CEO, Jim Moriarty, don’t appear to consider the bigger picture or probably have specific motives.

    1) Just as with any natural reef, an artificial reef is going to excel on certain conditions and will not break well everyday. Even the most consistent reef breaks in the world do not have excellent conditions daily and the individuals that detract from the success of an artificial reef that does produce surfable waves, if even only on occasion, seem to have some kind of vendetta.

    2) Surfer’s seem to forget that coastal protection and the ocean environment are important factors in the consideration of the success of an artificial reef. And realistically, artificial reefs should probably be implemented to counteract over-fishing problems alone.

    3) Most of the people taking time to pass judgement on artificial reefs are internet opinion slingers. Take Boscombe Reef for instance. Its likely that it rarely breaks, but then when it does there are clearly people surfing it. My inclination is to believe that a lot of people in Boscombe like the reef, they just probably aren’t inclined to voice their opinion on the internet. I’d also be inclined to believe that the negativity stems from politics and a number of non surfers upset over tax base issues.

    4) Look at the video of Kovalam Reef: will it break like that every day? No. But it will break like that when the wind and swell conditions cooperate. And that is what surfing is all about, conditions coming together to make excellent waves.

    5) I really do not think Pan K covers the situation well at all. Take a look at his posts over on magic seaweed and its fairly obvious he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and has some personal issues with the project. I don’t have an explanation obviously but it seems unfortunate.

    For detailed debate, head over to the magic seaweed forums. Someone from ASR…adamatasr, posts there regularly and debates with a group of staunch artificial reef detractors. The debates are fairly interesting but somewhat unfortunate in my opinion. It seems like the detractors have either too high of expectations or simply aren’t educated enough to grasp the whole picture – maybe they’re just bored and enjoy an argument, who knows. Either way, its an interesting situation and in reality, what damage do these artificial reefs cause? Probably none. Seems like a valiant effort that will only improve.

  3. Artificial surf reefs are the future. But not ones built on a sand base it would seem. My suggestion is “sculpt” existing reefs. Its so politically incorrect to even suggest…but think of the potential!!! Many’s the time I surfed a place and thought what if you could take a stick of dynamite and blow out that nasty coral bomby causing it closeout :) All jokes aside – I was recently watching a program on Discovery channel about a team that is actively growing coral to repair reefs devastated by hurricanes??? Thats the kind of artificial reefs we need for surf breaks – not sand bags on sand banks

  4. I think the detailed forum post you were talking about is this one

    I disagree with building a reef, dumping sand, putting in a groin etc etc to keep or create a surf break. Just because someone has built a large highrise right infront of the break and has been bleeding money from people for years it doesn’t mean that they try and make the waves stay breaking.

    For centuries waves have moved along the shores, breaking where the sand (or reefs if those tectonic plates are playing up) decide to settle….. lets just let that continue for centuries to come.

  5. Just read that the India Reef has been destroyed by this year’s monsoon and is scattered along the beach. I dont think we need ASR ruining the potential future funding with thier cintinued failed efforts.

  6. Max. You’re full of sh1t. You talk about people being uneducated but you spurt off like you know it all but it’s just a load of hot air and opinion.
    Bossie reef was there to increase wave height, increase number of surfing days, increase visitor numbers. Without even talking how poor the wave is unless you bb, that’s what BBCouncil paid MILLIONS for! Yes, success is subjective. But from this subject ASR conned money from BBC whose rate payees will now have to foot the bill. And WITHOUT extra income from all these new surf tourists, how are the tax payers supposed to cover the increase?

    Yes reefs mainly work on specific conditions. If ASR didn’t know that before they sold their wares to BBC then they are too dumb to build reefs. If they did know and didn’t explain that to BBC then ask why.

    Seriously Max. F off and educate yourself before you spout bull again. Twunt.

  7. Woah Guys, Lets keep it together here…

    Max, thanks for the support, but don’t worry, ASR’s work speaks for itself.

    Trevor, relax Kovalam Multi-Purpose Reef is just fine. The rumos that have been spreading are horribly over exaggerated to the point of being comical: email me if you have any questions [email protected]

    Me, I think you need to take a few deep breaths and calm down a bit. Both you and Max bring up some solid points. However, I’m just going to alert you to the fact that the reef was financed with the sale of the Boscombe Car Park. And you should know that there is huge number of Boz surfers that are really excited about Boz Reef.

    They took the time to setup a facebook page so that people could recognize its actually been a success and they’ve even taken to conducting interviews to get the word out. Here’s one as an example

    Surfer Mag, there are a lot of great waves around the world both natural and accidentally man made. Sadly, there are a lot of areas where coastal protection is unavoidable so lets be wise with our choices – and when it makes sense, implement options that make waves also!!



  8. I think reading a bit here on the topic are more useful and should be built but do not do this if you do not have adequate funding for a project of this magnitude. There are many advantages to having but if you do not protect them, no good either.

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