Artificial reefs as recreational scuba diving resources: a critical review of research

Document Type


Publication details

Stolk, P, Markwell, K & Jenkins, JM 2009, 'Artificial reefs as recreational scuba diving resources: a critical review of research', Journal of Sustainable Tourism, vol. 15, no. 4, pp. 331-350.

Published version available from:


Peer Reviewed



This paper reports on the increasing practice of developing and promoting artificial reefs as sites for scuba diving tourism and recreation. A comprehensive definition of artificial reefs is presented that encapsulates the diversity of structures used by marine recreationists, particularly scuba divers, followed by a review of existing literature that specifically examines artificial reefs as a resource for the conduct of recreational scuba diving. Three main thematic areas were identified in the existing literature: social dimensions, socioeconomic impacts and environmental engineering. A typology of artificial reefs is offered to better describe and categorise artificial reef structures according to unit characteristics that may influence recreational use such as material used, appearance, complexity and cost. The paper presents a conceptual model that identifies the components of an artificial reef scuba diving experience and discusses the potential of artificial reefs to act as tourism resources and management tools to redistribute scuba diver numbers away from natural reefs. Directions for future research are suggested, emphasising collection of data on aspects of the artificial reef scuba diving experience to better inform marine resource management.

Find in your library