Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Center for Public Policy

First Advisor

Dr. J. Clifford Fox

Second Advisor

Dr. Greg Garman


The natural reefs of the world are experiencing higher use and pressures, resulting in anthropogenic impacts that are deteriorating many coral stands and creating poor water quality. The Florida Keys rely primarily on the reef system that surrounds the archipelago for their socioeconomic health and successful future. The Florida Keys shares the symbiotic relationship of the terrestrial and marine realms with many other states and countries and the experience of higher demand on the resource. Artificial reefs could provide a substitute to the natural reefs for commercial and recreational users. An increased demand for derelict vessels of the U.S. Navy and Maritime Administration has illustrated the popularity of their use as artificial reefs.Local decision-makers do not have the experience to apply to an artificial reef proposal and many rely on existing anecdotal data and "expert" testimony. A lack of evaluation criteria adds to the difficulties of determining if an artificial reef proposal is appropriate for their community. With little empirical data available in the literature and a lack of comprehensive pre and post deployment data completed, how does the decision-maker decide? This study seeks to determine if a method exists that provides criteria and best practices for evaluation of artificial reef projects. Although the study's focus is on artificial reefs, this matrix could be modified to apply to any project where similar dynamics apply. The matrix uses a disaggregate method modeled after the Goeller scorecard. The model provides a best practice's matrix developed through a meta-analysis of three existing artificial reef projects, a comprehensive literature review, and interviews with three decision-makers at different levels of participation. The matrix applies identified best practices and provides a scoring method that can assist the decision-making process. This study acknowledges the limitations of a research project such as this and realizes that many decisions in a political realm have variables not covered in a study of this scope. However, an identified lack of decision-making continuity demonstrates the need for such a study and the research provided within this study is an important first step.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008