Boskalis installing artificial reefs in the River Meuse

Rijkswaterstaat, the Municipality of Rotterdam, Boskalis and Reefy are testing the Reefy artificial reef system to support nature restoration and conservation efforts in the tidal area of the River Meuse, as part of the “Groene Poort” or “Green Gate” project.


After careful preparation and in close collaboration with all the partners, 17 Reefy modules were assembled underwater by Boskalis in under 3 days.

“We need to rethink marine infrastructure and include the right conditions for letting nature thrive. It is important that water and sediments can go through breakwaters, then those appropriate conditions will allow ecological foreshores to develop that can grow with sea level rise. The ReefBlocks provide this and the necessary complexity to boost life underwater,” said Jaime Ascencio, CEO and Co-Founder of Reefy.

The artificial reef is approximately 25 meters long and 3 meters high which makes it possible to see its top layer during low tide.

“To improve the water management and quality, we are constructing various types of breakwaters along the riverbanks of the Nieuwe Waterweg. This creates a sheltered area that is favorable for (migratory) fish, birds and aquatic plants. We use sustainable (recycled) and innovative materials for the breakwaters,” said Sander de Borst, Technical Advisor, Rijkswaterstaat (Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management).

“Before the installation, the benchmark biodiversity measurements were taken by Reefy, and we expect the first ecological results of this transformational coastal defense project in a few months,” said Leon Haines, CTO and Co-Founder of Reefy.

“It’s always a special feeling when something that you have worked on with colleagues for so long can be put into practice and tested in the real world. This step is not the end goal, but only the beginning of the large scale application of these modular artificial reefs,” said Paul Peters, Program Lead Artificial Reefs Program of Boskalis.

Next to the four consortium partners, this pilot project was made possible thanks to invaluable technical advice and support of PortXL, Rotterdam Zoo Blijdorp, Burgers Zoo, TU Delft and Deltares.