Artificial reef for southern Tasmania?
A civil engineer by trade, Tasmanian Shane Abel has spent the past three years working on a proposal for an artificial reef at Park Beach, south-east of Hobart.
"[In Tasmania] one of the issues has always been ... the quality of the surf," he said. "Generally most of the surf at beaches like Park and Clifton don't appeal all that well."
Artificial surf reefs have been discussed for Tasmania in the past, including for Clifton Beach, but have never eventuated.
"We're trying to get a start somewhere and Park Beach is a good place to start but I'd love to build one at Clifton too," he said.
Mr Abel has done extensive research on attempts to create artificial surf reefs around the world.
Location of the proposed artificial reef.
"There's been quite a number built historically and all those reefs have either failed to produce surf or have fallen apart over time," he said.
"Rather than try to build something out of a sock full of sand or out of rocks we've come up with a proposal to actually build it out of high-density polyethylene (HDPE), the same material used in fish farm cages."
The pipe structure would be built 200 metres offshore and sit above the ocean floor supported by posts.
"Simplistically, if you think about a jetty that sits above the water ours is basically a jetty that sits below the water," he said.
(Supplied: Surfing Tasmania)
Mr Abel said this reduced the environmental impact and the structure could be easily removed.
"The fact that our structure is up off the bottom means it has no impact on sand movement and impact on the ocean floor is minimal," he said.
Mr Abel said the reef would sit at a 45-degree angle to the incoming swell and produce waves 100 metres long.
"We've been lucky enough to do some tank testing at the Maritime College in Launceston last year and that was successful," he said.
Design of Shane Abel's artificial reef.
Surfing Tasmania is holding a community meeting on August 2 at Dodges Ferry Okine Community Centre to discuss the proposal.
"I'm not interested in pursuing this unless I do get community support," Mr Abel said.
The project would also need to pass planning approvals.
"Because we're building out in the water we've actually got to get a lease from the crown. We're not quite sure at this stage whether or not we'll need Sorell Council planning approval for it as well," Mr Abel said.
The project does not come cheap, with the estimated cost between $2.5 and $3 million.
Mr Abel said he hoped private backers as well as the State Government would come on board if there was community support.
"If we can get this up and running and we get the quality of surf that I believe we will get then there's no doubt we could attract people to surf in Tasmania," he said.
The plans were posted on Surfing Tasmania's Facebook page and have received mostly positive comments but others are waiting to see more detail.
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