Through supplementing the California coast’s natural reef environments, California Ships to Reefs endeavors to increase the economic opportunities of all California coastal communities, and will provide increased economic benefit through sport fishing and scuba diving opportunities, and, once fully developed, become recreational attractions functioning in harmony with marine ecosystems.
"I think reefing ships is a fantastic win/win/win scenario for sport divers, sport fishermen and the environment. Natural wrecks break down into rubble piles over time and though they will continue to attract fish, the bigger the structure the bigger the attraction and the bigger the ecosystem it will hold and or attract."
-- Richie Kohler, Advisory Board, Ships to Reefs International                      
Quoted from California Diver Magazine
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

General Questions

1. Does California Ships to Reefs support all the positions taken in external items posted on the website?

California Ships to Reefs, nor any of its members, volunteers or employees makes any warranty, expressed or implied, or assumes any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information disclosed from third-party sources. Reference herein to any specific commercial products, processes, or services either by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by California Ships to Reefs. The opinions of the authors expressed herein are not a statement or reflection of California Ships to Reefs and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes without the specific prior written consent of California Ships to Reefs.

2. What is your source of income - feds/grants/local?

Essentially, all of the above. We have received significant support from the diving industry. In the past, grants from the Federal government have come with a donated ship. In addition, CSTR will be applying for grants from the Governor’s Ocean Protection Council. We are also actively seeking contributions from the travel/tourism industry and other entities interested in the welfare of the world’s oceans.

Regulatory/Liability Questions

1. Where is a City’s role in the Roadmap to Reefing?

Specifically, it isn’t spelled out. But many cities have shown that they are very accepting of new ideas that can benefit the community as well as the local environment. The citizens have listened carefully to our presentations and even when unsure, have kept an open mind in most cases. Many City officials have been willing to listen to a new idea and see how it can be a benefit for both the city and the environment.

2. How does a city take the lead to get a ship?

By being open to a "new thing" and allowing their staff to work on the process in cooperation with CSTR, to place the City in the forefront of the Ships to Reefs movement in California.

3. What can speed the regulatory process - 18-48 months is too long?

Contact your local State Assemblymember and Senator as well as the Department of Fish and Game and express your support for the project. Contact the local office of the Coastal Commission and express the same.

4. Who has liability?

Scuba diving is recognized as "an inherently hazardous activity". Scuba divers routinely sign liability waivers holding dive shops and dive charter operators harmless for essentially everything that may happen to them from the beginning of time to infinity. In 2010, AB 634 was signed into law. This addresses the issue by including SCUBA diving in the section of code that addresses other such inherently dangerous activities on government property.

Site Questions

1. What is the maximum practical depth of operation for the typical sport scuba diver?

The maximum recreational SCUBA dive depth limit is 130 feet of salt water (FSW). For vessels reefed in that depth, most of the superstructure (the interesting part) will be in the 80 foot range. Technical divers can dive deeper for longer. As always, no diver should attempt a dive beyond their ability, training and experience.

2. How much water must cover the ship per the relevant governmental agencies?

The Coast Guard requires up to 60 feet of clearance at mean low water near shipping channels or 45 feet in other areas.

3. What distance offshore for sinking?

The distance offshore varies at each site. Generally, depth is more the determining factor than distance.

4. Do you have to cut off some of the tower to sink it in 120 feet?

It is entirely possible that some part of the mast(s) or funnel(s) may have to be removed. We will try to avoid removing other parts of the superstructure as they provide the most complex bits of habitat for the new residents.

5. Can multiple ships be clustered to enhance a habitat?

We envision permitting an area of approximately one square mile. This will give us room to place more vessels, if appropriate, or other types of structures that might be beneficial to a reef complex.

6. How soon will we have ships down?

The timeline right now is uncertain. The ships in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet are the subject of a lawsuit regarding their deterioration and possible contamination of San Francisco Bay with toxic substances and Non-Native Invasive Species (NNIS). We are currently looking to other sources both in the US government and possible private and even foreign sources. The first baseline studies will begin this fall. The designation of the USS Kawishiwi and USS Hassayampa by the Maritime Administration (MARAD) has given us a timeline of September, 2015 to complete the reefing of either of those vessels. USS Kawishiwi is our primary choice. We hope to have her reefed much sooner and begin on USS Hassayampa immediately thereafter.

7. Have you looked at preferred locations and where are they located?

There are several sites being considered in California - Eureka, Fort Bragg, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Ventura/Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego.

8. Does the reef displace habitat?

We will site the reef to do the minimum amount of displacement to existing bottom habitat. The reason we choose sand or sand/mud bottom is because it is relatively barren, with a minimum number of existing inhabitants to be displaced. We will also be conducting extensive bottom surveys to ascertain exactly what is there and place the reef where it will cause the minimum upset.

9. Why wouldn’t a local sink group just contact the government and do the work to sink their own ship?

MARAD and the Navy give ships ONLY to designated governments, not to individual groups. CSTR has worked for years to build the relationships with these people and local, uncoordinated approaches would be the absolute worst thing that could happen. That is aside from the fact that to try to wear that hat would mean reinventing the wheel and doing all the heavy lifting that has already been done for you. Doesn’t make a lot of sense.

10. Who will be first in getting one of these ships?

The first 2 ships to go down, one in Northern California and one in Southern California, need to be a huge success. The more local dollars and interest poured in, and the more return-on- investment, the easier it will be for us to sell the idea to other cities up and down the coast. On the other hand, there will be no shortage of ships. The government’s primary problem, which our pipeline will solve, is giving them a repeatable model and process for disposal of environmentally hazardous ships in an economic way, and that pours money back into the economy and benefits the environment.

11. I don’t want to support this if I can’t get a ship in my own backyard, or if I can’t tell you where to put it...(words to that effect)

If you want to determine where the ship will go, volunteer for your local sink group site location committee. You need to find three sites you’d be happy with and a LOT of factors go into whether it’s approved or not. However, a) you stand to benefit by cooperating with whatever site(s) in Southern and Northern California are chosen first because these set the pattern for the whole state and it doesn’t help anyone if we put a ship down in a spot that doesn’t produce tremendous results, and b) There are literally hundreds of ships to go around. There is no shortage. Get on board now and start the process.

12. Presuming that the Federal Agencies will be "know-all", what state agencies would have to be involved in the site selection process and what will their issues be?

State agencies involved will be (at a minimum): Cal-EPA (toxics), California Department of Fish and Game (habitat issues), State Lands Commission (they own the sea bottom in most cases), Coastal Commission (control coastal development), possible State Parks and Recreation (impact on a nearby State Park).

13. Please name every agency of the State and Federal governments that must approve of placement of a vessel reef.

This list may not be all, but it is the best we have as of now.

Federal:
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
  • U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS)
State:
  • California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG)
  • California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA)
  • California State Lands Commission (CLSC)
  • California Coastal Commission
  • California Department of Parks and Recreation (possibly)
14. Does a city need a sea bottom grant ownership?

Not necessarily. The State Lands Commission is the "owner" of non-granted sea bottom lands from the mean high tide line to the three (3) nautical mile limit.

Cleaning Questions

1. Is cleaning/diverizing done in the local area?

Ideally, we would prefer to have all the work done locally to provide even more jobs to the local area. The problem we have, however, is that the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet (SBRF) is not only contaminated with toxic substances, it is also the home to Non-Native Invasive Species (NNIS). At the present time, the U.S. Coast Guard, Cal-EPA and the Bay Area Water Quality Control Agency have mandated that no ships will be moved from SBRF without first being cleaned of both of these problems and the waste disposed of properly.

2. Why diverize a ship - why spend that money? Why not just leave it as-is and save the money. Some people will go out of their way to hurt themselves no matter what you do.

At least four major things must be considered:
  • a. We must remove all overhead wire so that when the brackets rust through and the wire would drop, it won’t be there to entangle divers.
  • b. Remove or weld open all doors and hatches so none can close after a diver goes in.
  • c. Clear areas that are too small that could trap divers like in the boiler room of the Yukon. Videos taken before preparation show what a problem this would be.
  • d. Remove bulkheads and cut enough holes in her so that you can see daylight (the way out) no matter where you are. To not do so limits the ship to Tech Diving only, and would mean enormously limited utilization. There will be plenty for the Tech Divers later - stay tuned.

While we cannot make any ship perfectly safe, we will strive to make them as diver friendly as possible. As always, no diver should attempt a dive beyond their ability, training and experience.

3. What happens to asbestos in ships?

The ships must be cleaned of friable (liable to become air-borne) asbestos. Asbestos which is still in solid form can be left in place. Asbestos is not a danger unless it becomes air-borne. Fish do not breathe air. Once the ship is reefed, the remaining asbestos is saturated and sequestered and is therefore harmless.

4. Which of the available ships have the lowest clean-up costs?

That has yet to be determined. What types of substances are aboard are dependent on when the vessel was built and what was added or taken off during her career. This will be determined during the selection process by a qualified Marine Surveyor, other experts, and review of the documents pertinent to each vessel.

5. What about hydrocarbons, CFCs, PCBs, wiring (copper), electronics, munitions, invasive species in tanks and on hull, antifouling paint (TBTO)?

All of the toxic contaminants must be cleaned out/off of the vessel. CSTR looks on the EPA’s National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs, adopted in May, 2006, as the MINIMUM acceptable standard. During the cleaning and diverizing phases of the preparation, some components (recoverable), such as copper wiring, the propellers, lead ballast, and even bunker (fuel) oil, may be salvaged and sold to offset a portion of the costs. As stated above, no vessel will leave the SBRF without being cleaned of toxics and NNIS.

6. Where would the clean-up be done?

Currently, Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet (SBRF) vessels are mandated to be cleaned prior to leaving the Suisun Bay area (see #1 above). There are two possible dry dock facilities in the San Francisco Bay Area, BAE/San Francisco Ship Repair, which has two floating dry docks, and Allied Defense Recycling at Mare Island Shipyard, Vallejo, which has two stationary dry docks plus other yard facilities.

7. How and when will cumulative impact be analyzed?

CSTR is in the process of partnering with local scientific and educational entities/experts to carry out comprehensive baseline studies of the reefing site and other nearby areas prior to any vessel being sunk. In order to know what will change, we must know what is there now. Immediately after the vessel is reefed, another study will be conducted to determine the baseline for the reef in its "pristine" condition. Thereafter, continuing measurements will be conducted as the reef changes, matures and takes on its mantle of life.

8. CSTR states it will clean all ships to at least the standards contained in the National Guidance: Best Management Practices for Preparing Vessels Intended to Create Artificial Reefs. Are there any other measures CSTR will take?

Yes. Although not required by law or regulation, CSTR will remove all plastics, especially manmade carpet fiber, from any ship it reefs. Plastics, especially carpet fiber, degrade into small particles that are mistaken for food by zooplankton. When eaten, these particles provide no food value and block the digestive tract of these small animals, which are at the base of the marine food chain. With stomachs full, the zooplankton starve to death, depriving all animals above them of nourishment as well.

Questions Regarding the Basel Action Network’s Recent Report, "Dishonorable Disposal"

1. In their report, the Basel Action Network (BAN) makes the claim that it "provides the first comprehensive analysis that makes it fundamentally clear that the environmental, human health and economic costs of dumping these ships at sea are too high". It goes on then to strongly advocate for the recycling of these unwanted ships. What is CSTR’s response?

This statement is in direct opposition to the two most famous and most often quoted reports on the options that the U.S. Government has for reducing its inventory of obsolete ships. These reports were commissioned by the Department of Defense (DOD) from the independent and highly reputed Rand Corporation. The first study was completed in 2001 and the follow- up report was released in 2005. The 2001 Rand report says in part that they "examined the option of long-term storage and the three ship-disposal options: domestic recycling, overseas recycling, and reefing." Rand carefully looked at the costs of each program, as this was the government’s primary question, to find "the most cost-effective and environmentally sound course of action." The basic conclusion to both the 2001 Rand Corporation Report and to the 2004 follow-up was quite simple: "Reefing is the least expensive domestic disposal option." It went on to say, "Reefing brings with it the potential for additional economic offsets in the form of benefits to communities: increased revenues from recreational diving, sport fishing, improved commercial fishing, and similar endeavors that prosper when reefing takes place in adjacent waters."

CSTR has consistently stated that any ship it plans to put down as an artificial reef will be fully cleaned, all contaminates will be removed especially any material containing PCB’s. During the cleaning process valuable metals will be removed to the fullest extent possible for recycling as this is a source of revenue to cover costs. This cleaning and removal project is expected to swell the numbers of workers at the shipyards/dry docks involved. Al of this clearly refutes the statement by BAN in their report: "domestic ship recycling is the only method capable of hazardous waste management, and also provides for the recovery of valuable materials." Also, refuting BAN’s statement in the same paragraph: "ocean disposal...eliminates the creation of green domestic jobs." As regards jobs in general, we would note it is well documented that each new ship-based artificial reef creates significant economic benefits to the nearby communities including job opportunities at SCUBA shops, fishing shops, charter boats and especially at hotels, restaurants and other hospitality-industry businesses in the vicinity.

2. In "Dishonorable Disposal" BAN states that "it is very important to note that vessels have short underwater life spans as artificial reefs, estimated at 60 years". CSTR has consistently used the term "up to 100 years or more" for the lifespan of a reefed ship. Why the discrepancy?

The assertion of a 60-year lifespan is difficult to support when faced with contrary evidence. First, take a look at the condition of the shallow "reef" created when the USS Arizona was sunk at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The remains of this vessel still support the memorial structure despite being down just a few months short of 70 years. This is certainly longer than the 60-year lifespan stated by BAN. Further, there is the photographic evidence of the still intact RMS Titanic even though it went down in April, 1912. It has been on the bottom nearly 100 years and it sits in water over 12,000 feet deep. At great depth the water pressure will cause the ship to degrade more rapidly due to the intense pressure. Yet, rails remain in place and chandeliers still hang from the ceiling. No scientific studies are known to have determined the estimated lifespan of ship-based artificial reefs, so it appears that the authors of this report have chosen their estimated lifespan at random.

CSTR has consistently stated that ship-based artificial reefs have an estimated lifespan of "up to 100 years or more". This estimate too is chosen at random, however, the evidence from the Arizona and Titanic, as well as many others such as Scapa Flow and Chuuk (Truk) Lagoon, suggest that 100 years is actually a conservative figure.

3. "Dishonorable Disposal" makes a concerted effort to point out that toxic substances leaching from ship-based artificial reefs pose a credible threat to the environment and to humans through the consumption of tainted fish. Is this really a problem?

This is, of course, only a problem if the ships are not thoroughly cleaned prior to sinking. The report highlights PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), leaching from the artificial reef USS Oriskany in Florida. Unfortunately, not all PCB laden material was removed from the ship because the Navy conducted studies that indicated that solid forms of PCBs would leach at a very miniscule rate and therefore some material was not removed. Here is what BAN has to say at one point: "..the Ex-Oriskany, post-sinking fish data confirms solid PCBs leach more rapidly into the marine environment than the Navy’s simulated leach rate estimates and are taken up through the food chain more rapidly than the Navy’s environmental risk-based assumptions".

Unfortunately, the study being cited here cannot confirm anything regarding PCB uptake in the food chain coming from the Oriskany. First, only legal size fish were caught for the study which was done in late 2006 and early 2007, and the Oriskany was sunk in 2006. The fish tested did not (could not) grow to adult size on or near the Oriskany, as she wasn’t there. The most reasonable interpretation is that these fish came from somewhere else. Additionally, an accidental PCB spill in the Escambia River in 1969 resulted in PCB advisories being issued as late as 2007 by the Florida Department of Health. The fish that tested positive for elevated PCB levels caught on the Oriskany were not tested before their arrival on the Oriskany. In other words, BAN has no idea where the PCBs actually came from. Did they come from the Oriskany, the Escambia River or some other source? The study cited throughout the BAN report can’t be relied upon as scientific support for their statements.

CSTR is committed to thoroughly cleaning toxins, including PCBs, from all ships it will repurpose as artificial reefs. With that said, CSTR feels it is unfortunate that the Oriskany was allowed to go down with PCB laden material on her and will not allow that mistake to be repeated in any of their activities.

4. "Dishonorable Disposal" on several occasions makes an assumption regarding fish population growth on artificial reefs as if it is fact. Here is a good example of the statement from page nine of the report, it is immediately preceded by the word "suggest": "...artificial reefs do not necessarily protect and enhance species of fish, but rather attract species of fish. The attracting nature of the artificial reef can, in fact, be detrimental to species populations as concentrated populations can lead to fishing targets and thus overfishing, leading to a probably decline of species with the vicinity". Isn’t this the "Fish Attraction Device (FAD)" theory?

The authors of "Dishonorable Disposal" cite a 2004 report by Lukens and Selberg as the basis for this statement. The report cited is titled "Effect of Severe Hurricanes on Biorock Coral Reef Restoration Projects in the Turks and Caicos Islands". It does not track fish population movements other than to report dispersal by weather driven currents. The overall report seems to be quite supportive of artificial reef projects and here is one quote from it regarding fish abundance: "fish populations rapidly increased with large numbers of juvenile fish along with seahorses, barracuda, turtles and stingrays."

To date, no fully scientific studies (with baseline data) have answered the question "Do artificial reefs enhance fish populations or merely concentrate them for easier catch?" Many studies have looked at this issue but, without using a full and proper scientific method, including baseline data, there is only anecdotal evidence combined with evidence that can be derived from fish biology. All of these evidentiary sources suggest that artificial reefs do, in fact, enhance the overall environment and increase frish populations. J Further, they suggest that artificial reefs actually reduce the demand on natural reefs thus allowing them to better thrive.

CSTR intends to conduct the research to scientifically prove this point, or not, by conducting baseline studies of our reefing sites along with nearby natural reefs, and then continuing the research after the deployment of our reefs. The final answers lie a few years down the road after completion of the studies. For now, however, the study protocol has been completed and peer reviewed, locations have been determined and CSTR is in the process of partnering with local universities and institutes for statistical analysis of the data that their volunteer divers will collect.

California Ships to Reefs is hoping to provide answers to some of these remaining questions, especially the "Fish Attraction" vs. "Fish Propagation" debate with our pioneering data collection prior to and ongoing after reef deployment.

Vessel Questions

1. What is the height and/or breadth of the California ship inventory?

SBRF contains vessels of all shapes and sizes, both combatants and support. CSTR has identified approximately 32 possible candidates, which range from 180 foot Coast Guard buoy tenders to the 655 foot fast fleet oilers such as Kawishiwi and Hassayampa. Vessel heights range up to approximately 85 feet from keel to mast top, but masts and/or funnels can be cut down to meet Coast Guard clearance regulations.

2. How are the vessels sunk?

After diverizing, wherein many holes are cut into the structure of the vessel for access underwater, linear shaped charges of low power are used to cut through the hull and/or seawater fittings. This results in the vessel sinking quickly and settling upright on the bottom.

3. I understand you use explosives to actually sink the ship. Does this harm the fish or other marine life in any way?

Yes, explosives are the preferred way to cut the final holes in the ship, but because of the type used, no, they do not harm marine life.

This takes some explanation: It basically depends on the size of the boom. If you use conventional explosives you could use 10 to 12 pounds on the charge. This would be the kind of thing that produces the big jagged edged holes you see on photos of ships that have been torpedoed or hit mines.

Shaped ChargesWhat we would use (and this has been done over 20 times around the world) is called a "linear shaped charge". It is a long "V within a C" shaped copper tube, with the open side of the "V" and the open side of the "C" facing in the same direction. The space between the inside of the “C” and the outside of the “V” is where the explosives are. The open side is placed tightly against the inside of the ship's hull, outlining whatever shape you want the hole to be. When the charge detonates, the explosive causes the copper to liquefy and basically turn "inside out", creating a jet of super hot liquid copper that "cuts" through the steel hull plate rather than just blowing through it and pushing it out of the way, creating those jagged "flower petal" shapes.

To give an example, the charges used right now have about 2.5 pounds of explosive for a 4 foot x 4 foot (hole) shaped charge. The math is a little complex, but the entire issue of the use of shaped charges is that properly ordered and used they minimize the amount of "bang" in the water. So instead of using 10 to 12 pounds per charge, we can use about 2.5 pounds (1/4 to 1/5 as much) per charge. And they are not set off all at once, but in a timed sequence so the ship goes down upright and in the proper place.

In additional we end up filing a safety justification with the technical details of the actual explosion with the various departments including fisheries. Also, under US law, we must make sure that there are no marine mammals (whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions or sea otters) within a specified safety zone. The key is by focusing the charge into the steel along a very narrow line rather than a wholesale explosion there is minimal energy going into the water that could harm fish or other marine life.

Just to give you an example, in 1995 when the Columbia was reefed in Canada, there was a fish farm in the same bay. The fish did not react to the "explosion" but they did to the sound of the ship hitting bottom.

3. Given our balance of trade issues and energy costs in manufacture of steel, why not pursue domestic recycling on the West Coast?

Wages and worker safety costs make ship recycling costs prohibitive on the West Coast. The yard in Brownsville, TX, for example, routinely underbids California companies who have expressed an interest in ship recycling. Allied Defense Recycling has recently started some ship disposal in the old Mare Island Shipyard, but even with this yard up and running, more ships are stricken from the Naval Register each year than could possibly be scrapped.

Cost Questions

1. How much does it cost to sink a ship?

It’s a bit like asking how much does a car cost - it depends on which car and in our case, it depends on how it arrives to us. We’re hoping to get environmentally cleaned ships towed to the yard for diverization, which should save a bundle. The important thing for sink groups to keep in mind is a) they have to help CSTR statewide to get the work done so fundraising right now is a big key to us accomplishing our goals, and b) on a local level we need to get business and government really on board. Likely, you’ll need at least $1.5 Million, which is what City Council kicked in for the Vandenberg as matching funds.

2. What is this "air tax" that I heard about?

It was just one of many ideas that were being considered when we thought we had to re-fund the CDFG’s artificial reef program. We’ve been advised by CDFG that it’s not necessary - they will help us with the first ships and we have a Point of Contact for the Federal Government now to start the process.

3. Who pays for the supervision, monitoring, buoys, etc?

CSTR/sink group will pay for buoy and navigation aids maintenance out of the funds generated by the dive tags. Regulatory functions will be the responsibility of the local law enforcement authority with jurisdiction in the area. They will most likely share in the tag revenue as well.

4. What is the current average annual maintenance costs of a ship reef buoy system?

Buoy maintenance for the mooring buoys and aids to navigation on Yukon are approximately $2,000 per year.

5. What are the costs to the local city/county jurisdiction?

Should the City, County or local redevelopment agency wish to support the project, we will certainly welcome whatever they wish to contribute. There are certain to be some costs associated with additional tasks as the project evolves, but we are currently seeking, public, corporate, and private grants to accomplish the initial phases.

6. The estimated $800K for reefing a ship from the RAND Report - what does this include?

Cleaning of the vessel of toxics, oils and greases, PCB containing electrical and electronic equipment and other readily removable PCB containing equipment, local towing and docking, preparation (unspecified) and other incidental overhead items, insurance, and making the vessels safe for divers (diverizing).

7. Will any regional money be used for diverizing? What is the 1/3 cost amount we need to raise at the local level?

If it is/becomes available we will be more than happy to accept it and use it. This amount will vary based on the vessel type, and what necessary local steps need to be taken for the reefing. We intend to raise these funds through corporate sponsorships and private grants.

8. Environmental monitoring, how long and how is it paid for?

We will be seeking partnerships with educational and scientific institutions to set-up a continuing monitoring program on all vessels we reef. Many California institutions have very active oceanography programs now, and we would like to see them as partners in our efforts. Systematic study of man-made reefs from inception over long term is still a new area of endeavor.

9. What could a City/County do to yield the most payback to the City/County?

To get the most benefit, the City/County can become Diver Friendly. As we get close to the date for reefing a vessel, we will be glad to help with advice on the ways that can happen. For a hotel or motel, it may be a simple as putting in a fresh water rinse tank and some gear drying racks. As the date gets close, dive related business opportunities will open up. There is good diving in California, but what we have been told by divers is that most locations lack the ONE BIG THING to draw divers to their area.

Use Questions

1. How many divers are there in California - US?

California has approximately 30,000 PADI certified divers (there are several other certifying companies). Approximately 10,000 of these PADI divers live north of Point Conception. PADI divers in the U.S. (2005) numbered approximately 184,000. There were approximately 920,000 PADI divers worldwide in 2005.

2. Are the current or proposed reefs closed to fishing, a protection zone-moored boats & divers?

Man-made reefs can be either take or no-take zones. CSTR has no preference. We feel that wherever a ship is reefed, it should appropriately take on the character of the bottom it rests on. If the bottom is a no-take zone now, the reef would be the same; if it is a take (fishing) zone, then the reef would take on that characteristic.

3. Are there fisherman vs. diver conflicts with multiple use areas?

Fishing and diving are not incompatible activities. Some divers are avid underwater hunters. Divers, especially those who dive on wrecks, are trained to deal with fishing line or other entanglement hazards, as it is quite common. Fishermen may avoid fishing right on the reef in order to avoid losing their gear, but will fish nearby. Also, the experience of the last 11 years in San Diego with the man-made reef Yukon has demonstrated a high level of compatibility between the two industries. Fishermen think that scuba divers scare away fish, Scuba divers don’t want to dive where hooks are.

4. Is there a mooring site or do you anchor up?

The Coast Guard requires that objects placed on the sea bottom be marked on charts and buoyed so they are not hazards to navigation. CSTR or the local sink group, as part of the management of the reef, will place and maintain mooring buoys and aids to navigation on the reef. We don’t want anchors dropped on a living reef, and boaters won’t want to chance losing an anchor.

5. How long will divers be in the area?

Generally, dive boats will be on the reef during daytime hours, although night dives are done routinely in some areas. A two-tank dive will usually take about 3 hours, consisting of two dives with a surface interval in between. Commonly, a dive charter boat will make a two-tank dive trip in the morning and another in the afternoon. They may or may not be to the same location.

6. Will they dock on weekends?

Most dive charter operations are 7 days per week.

7. Can one ship support multiple activities (sport diving, sport fishing, etc.)?

Yes, and if we find a need or see that it is beneficial, multiple vessels can be reefed to create a reef complex. These can be of various sizes and configurations to provide the best benefit for the users and the sea life. This is why we initially survey a larger area than needed for just one vessel. San Diego has an area known as "Wreck Alley" with six reefs, some of which are ships and some are other structures.

8. Can zones be set (i.e., dive zone, habitat zone, etc.)?

Those could be set by the State Department of Fish and Game.

Post-Sinking Questions

1. Who controls the reef - sets the rules/regs/maintenance/monitoring?

CSTR or the sink group will enter into a public/private partnership with the "owner" of the reef, either the State Lands Commission or a granted lands owner. CSTR/sink group will contract to maintain the aids to navigation required by the Coast Guard and the mooring buoys, which is what the dive tags will pay for.

2. When does CSTR’s job end?

Never. It is our intention that CSTR and/or its member sink groups will continue indefinitely as stewards of the ocean. We intend to be involved not only in reefing vessels, but in educating the public about the ocean environment and the impact, both good and bad, of humanity on it.

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