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Sea Gardening background theory

In 2007 REAF ( Recreated Enhanced Areas for Fish) formulated some 'guiding principles' and then set about , with your help, to apply these principles in practical ways and investigate the results. In other words, it does not try and say this is the answer,  but rather says 'Seabed Gardening' is an open ended growth process.'

Such evolutionary 'process' thinking has taken what was once called artificial reef building through the realm of 'seabed enhancement' and now into Sea Gardening.

Some of its distinguishing features, as opposed to its forerunner, artificial reefs, include such principles as outlined below:


  1. Foremost is the principle that seabed enhancement is a purposeful activity. Unlike its forerunner that used many materials of opportunity like sinking old ships or subway cars, enhancement uses purpose built modules.

  2. Robust consultation and preferably consensus decision making should permeate all aspects of Sea Gardenng under takings, including harvest guidelines. Mindfulness of viewing the reef as a taonga (something valuable).

  3. Like a gardener who digs his soil, rakes it to a fine tilth, sows seed, weeds his plot, and harvests his vegetables, so too can continual actions fishermen can do, lead to fish for all. (Refer 'Creeping baseline' blog)
    It is observed that even a
    small force, applied consistently, is capable of making a big difference.  Slowly rusting rebar in concrete will eventually cause strong concrete to crack and fall apart. (See pic on left of this page)

  4. A second principle is understanding that our world is essentially a non-linear world.  So called 'FREAK WAVES' are non-linear expressions of waves that build up to 30m tall. (Search YouTube  - Freak wave videos) So if we give something back to the marine world it often responds in abundant non-linear ways. (Refer 'Sea-grass' blog)

  5. Mysterious unseen forces exist in the universe. Many of us who live by the coast watch our tides go in and out, knowing that there is an invisible force between land, sun and moon exerts itself on the ocean. Everyday we use invisible radio waves, wifi, and so. REAF building incorporates these invisible forces.

  6. While many fishermen consult sol-lunar tables for the best bite times, what if the X factor lies within ourselves? This is the 'overview effect' awareness that experienced fisher folk oft come to. That the fish, the ocean, the sun, the moon and ourselves are all interconnected.
    As one fishing magazine writer put it, 'If your bait is well presented, if the tides and time of day are right, if you are in the right spot and the fish aren't biting, then check your attitude!'


With these factors in mind, we can see that we don't need to be sinking one off huge reef structures (like old oil rigs) in order to help the marine world. In fact lots of fisher-folk making small efforts can create a huge effect because they are helped by invisible forces and the fact that our world often responds in non-linear ways.

In a pipi shell, if we do something in return for the marine world, it will respond with abundance.

Of course this is really nothing new. Maori and other indigenous cultures, World Faiths, all espouse sustainable environmental guidelines and practices. These need to be studied, taught, reflected on and incorporated where applicable. 
For a good reference Google search 'Marsden, Kaitiakitanga: A Definitive Introduction To The Holistic World View Of The Maori'


So with such core understandings at hand, experiences as in 'Voyages, REAF building and Zeand Fishing undertaken, you are ready to take part in Community Reef activities. 


These might include fishing for your needs, constructing and deploying more enhancement materials, survey monitoring and maintenance diving, or helping organize and serve on a local Community Reef Trust ( and more.

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