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Bringing the Future of Florida’s Artificial Reefs into Focus

The 2020 Florida Artificial Reef Summit…
Still on a Screen Near You.

For more than three decades, UF/IFAS Extension and Florida Sea Grant have played a primary leadership role in the evolution of Florida’s artificial reef program. This includes coordination with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to host regular regional artificial reef workshops, which culminate to a statewide “Florida Artificial Reef Summit” every 5 years.

These reef workshops are designed to foster awareness, communication and collaboration among stakeholders – who include artificial reef manufacturers, coordinators, regulators, wildlife managers, researchers and recreational user groups. Consistent regional workshops build perspective across the state and allow for evaluation of the changing needs of the broader artificial reef community.


Florida has one of the most active artificial reef programs in the US. More than 3,800 planned public artificial reefs have been deployed since the 1940’s. Learn more about Florida’s artificial reefs from the FWC Artificial Reef Program.

The 2020 Florida Artificial Reef Summit theme was timely entitled “Bringing the Future of Florida’s Artificial Reefs into Focus,” and contributions featured lessons learned, areas requiring greater focus, and visions for the future of artificial reefs in Florida. Planning for the 2020 Summit began in 2018, convening a steering committee of 15 that included county government artificial reef coordinators, FWC employees and UF/IFAS & Florida Sea Grant faculty.

Originally scheduled for April 2020, the Summit was postponed due to the COVID pandemic, and ultimately reformatted from an in-person conference to a virtual event. Fortunately, the original agenda and participant list remained almost entirely intact throughout the transition. The Summit included presentations from the National Marine Fisheries Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, research faculty at multiple universities, and a broad spectrum of county coordinators and industry representatives.

  • The Keynote Address was delivered by Dr. Bill Lindberg, who has spent almost forty years on the assessment of reef fisheries habitat and the application of artificial reefs in fisheries management.
  • A special Hindsight is 2020 session engaged Dr. Jim Bohnsack and Dr. Heyward Mathews, who together have over a century of artificial reef research experience, as they reflected on lessons learned and the best focus for future efforts.
  • Presentations and Posters addressed today’s most relevant topics facing the future of Florida’s artificial reefs, including environmental mitigation, fisheries management, inshore applications, impacts of natural disturbances, human dimensions, socioeconomics, tourism, and regulatory and policy frameworks. Check out the full program book of abstracts!
  • A moderated Q&A panel discussion was designed to engage dialogue between speakers and participants, highlighting current fisheries management considerations, including the impact that artificial reefs have on catchability of multiple commercially and recreationally important marine species.

None of this would have been possible without the support of our Summit sponsors, who contributed time, money and valuable insight to the 2020 Summit.

Thank you to all of our 2020 Summit Sponsors!

Almost two hundred registered attendees participated in the virtually reformatted 2020 Summit. Hundreds more have interacted with Summit speakers and attendees by following the Summit LIVE on our Florida Artificial Reefs Facebook page.

We look forward to an in-person Summit in 2025, but are thrilled to share all of the science from the 2020 Summit in this virtual format…click to view On a Screen Near You! 

(Or just check out the menu below for links to each of the presentations.)

Day 1: Nov. 4. 2020
Speaker Topic Video Link
Summit Day 1 Welcome Sherry Larkin, Florida Sea Grant Welcome from Florida Sea Grant Watch Here
Keith Mille, FWC & Angela Collins, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant Welcome to FLARS2020 Watch Here
Introduction to the Live Session Keith Mille, FWC & Ana Zangroniz, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant Introduction to the Live Session Watch Here
Special Session: Hindsight is 2020 Heyward Mathews, Saint Petersburg College History of Florida’s Artificial Reefs Watch Here
Jim Bohnsack, NOAA/NMFS, University of Miami, retired Florida Artificial Reef Science in the 1970s and 1980s: A retrospective Watch Here
Q & A Keith Mille, FWC & Ana Zangroniz, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant (moderators) Moderated Question & Answer Session Watch Here
Statewide Update Keith Mille, FWC Statewide Update Watch Here
A Local Lens: Regional Artificial Reef Updates Joe Nolin, Volusia County Northeast Florida Watch Here
Jessica Garland, Martin County East Central Florida Watch Here
Jenna McNeal, Palm Beach County Southeast Florida Watch Here
Katie Laakkonen, City of Naples Southwest Florida Watch Here
Keith Kolasa, Hernando County West Central Florida Watch Here
Melinda Gates, Walton County Northwest Florida Watch Here
Q & A Victor Blanco, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant & Christine Kittle, FWC (moderators) Moderated Question & Answer Session Watch Here
Day 2: Nov. 5, 2020
Speaker Topic Video Link
Summit Day 2 Welcome and Keynote Address Jessica McCawley, FWC Welcome from FWC Watch Here
Bill Lindberg, University of Florida, Emeritus Keynote Address Watch Here
Q & A Keith Mille, FWC and Christine Kittle, FWC (moderators) Moderated Question & Answer Session Watch Here
Focus: Research and Monitoring I Chris Stallings, University of South Florida Synthesis of research on paired artificial/natural reefs Watch Here
Matthew Ajemian, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Challenges and prospects for scientific monitoring of artificial reefs: lessons learned from Texas to Florida Watch Here
Alastair Harborne, Florida International University The Effects on Natural Reefs of Predatory
Fish Aggregations Around a Nearby Artificial Reef
Watch Here
Kerry Flaherty-Walia, FWC Fish communities associated with natural and artificial hard bottom habitats within the Tampa Bay estuary Watch Here
Lauren Floyd, Coastal Protection Engineering Artificial Reef Monitoring in Florida: A Comparison of Recreational and Mitigation Reef Monitoring Programs Watch Here
Q & A Sean Keenan, FWC and Brittany Hall-Scharf, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant (moderators) Moderated Question & Answer Session Watch Here
Focus: Research and Monitoring II Avery Paxton, NOAA/NOS Artificial reefs can be effective tools for
fish community enhancement but are not one-size-fits-all
Watch Here
D’Amy Stewart, Duke University Quantifying spatial distributions & benthic footprints of artificial reefs on the SE USA continental shelf Watch Here
Michael McCallister, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Fish Community Assessment of Mesophotic Artificial Reefs Watch Here
Sara Thanner, Miami-Dade County Re-Evaluation of Module and Boulder Reefs: Miami-Dade Co. AR Program Watch Here
Amber Whittle, Florida Aquarium A Call to Action: Artificial Reefs in Coral Reef Restoration Watch Here
Q & A Jeff Renchen, FWC and Ana Zangroniz, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant (moderators) Moderated Question & Answer Session Watch Here
Focus: Socioeconomics and Human Dimensions Christa Court, University of Florida Measuring economic contributions and impacts associated with artificial reefs Watch Here
Ed Camp, University of Florida Effects of ARs on recreational fisheries: what we don’t know might hurt us Watch Here
Lisa Chong, University of Florida Spatial considerations can determine net socioecological effects of artificial reefs on recreational fisheries and their management Watch Here
Q & A James Gray, Sebastian Inlet District (moderator) Moderated Question & Answer Session Watch Here
Day 3: Nov. 6, 2020
Speaker Topic Video Link
Summit Day 3 Welcome Bill Seaman, University of Florida, Emeritus Welcome to Day 3 of the Summit Watch Here
Focus: New Perspectives, Regulation and Mitigation, Part I Victor Blanco, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant Artificial Reef Monitoring: A Citizen Science-Based Program in Taylor County, Florida Watch Here
Chip Baumberger, CSA Ocean Sciences, Inc. High Resolution Underwater Mapping of the Osborne Tire Reef, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida Watch Here
Amelia Castelli, Penalties and Forfeitures Miami Field Office U.S. Customs and Border Protection Partnering in Support of Florida’s Artificial Reef Program Watch Here
Lance Roddy & Paul Gionis, NOAA/NOS Nautical Charting of Artificial Reefs Watch Here
Lisa Lovvorn, US Army Corps of Engineers Artificial Reef Federal Regulatory Review Process Watch Here
Q & A Christine Kittle & Kent Smith, FWC (moderators) Moderated Question & Answer Session Watch Here
Focus: New Perspectives, Regulation and Mitigation, Part II Karen Holloway-Adkins, East Coast Biologists Inc. & David Snyder, CSA Ocean Sciences, Inc. Brevard County Mid-reach Artificial Reefs: Turtles, epibiota and fishes Watch Here
Erik Neugaard, Port Everglades Broward County Overview of Port Everglades Artificial Reef and Mitigation Reef Programs Watch Here
Shelby Thomas & Stacy Brown, 1000 Mermaids Transformative “Art”ificial Reef Project, 1000 Mermaids Artificial Reef Project Watch Here
Q & A Sean Fitzgerald, FWC & Victor Blanco, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant (moderators) Moderated Question & Answer Session Watch Here
Focus: Fisheries Monitoring and Management I Sean Keenan, FWC-FWRI The Gulf Fishery Independent Survey of Habitat and Ecosystem Resources (G-Fisher) Program Watch Here
Kevin Thompson, FWC-FWRI Incorporating data from artificial and natural reefs into indices of relative abundance to support assessment and management of reef fishes Watch Here
Tiffanie Cross, FWC-FWRI Assessing Reef Fish Habitat Restoration and Recreational Fishing Enhancement Efforts Using Fisheries Dependent Monitoring Methods Watch Here
Q & A Jeff Renchen, FWC & Brittany Hall-Scharf, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant (moderators) Moderated Question & Answer Session Watch Here
Focus: Fisheries Monitoring and Management II Roy Crabtree, NOAA/NMFS Artificial reefs: Too much of a good thing? Watch Here
John Walter, NOAA/NMFS Artificial Structure Implications for Fisheries Management (and the science around it) Watch Here
Moderated Panel Discussion Ana Zangroniz, UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant & Sean Keenan, FWC-FWRI (moderators) Moderated Question & Answer Session with invited guest panel Watch Here
Closing Remarks Steering Committee Behind The Scenes: Wrap up and Closing Remarks Watch Here