New artificial reef created out of concrete stars in Gibraltar

Large concrete stars are being used in Queensway Quay to expand the breakwater line and create a more environmentally friendly marina. The stars, apply named “Gibraltar stars”, have been designed to establish an intricate underwater maze for a wide array of species to thrive in.


The Gibraltar Star mould was designed so that it could be reused. To further reduce wastage, the excess concrete was also poured into disused oil drums to create a more diverse habitat. As the old adage goes; waste not, want not.

 This environmental project has been instigated by developer Paul Butler, owner of Marina Properties Limited, who believes that the long term benefits of conservation trump the short term profits.

 The artificial reef provides a diverse surface which is essential for many species to survive. The underwater crevices, which the stars create, enable young organisms in particular to take shelter from the dangers of marine life.

Concurrently, the Gibraltar Stars absorb the force of the waves, instead of diverting them, so that boats within the Marina will not be damaged during rough weather. In comparison, vertical sea walls only reflect the waves, causing nearby piers and properties to be eroded over time. Breaking down this action with the Star is a very forward thinking move.

 The Helping Hand Trust has praised the marina for their “ingenuity” in combining habitat creation with swell reduction. Developers and Environmentalists are often depicted as being at loggerheads with each other, but Gibraltar is seeing that stereotype challenged.

 The initial development of the Island project on the western side has already increased the Marina’s Biodiversity dramatically and marine researchers studying the site are astounded by the success.

Dr Eric Shaw, the founder of Europe’s first Artificial Reef said, “Most marinas have little other than mullet swimming in their water. But Queensway Quay Marina has brought the water quality up so high, that there are now crustaceans, like the swimming crab and squat lobster; soft corals and over 50 different species of fish, thriving within Queensway quay Marina.”

To the overall sadness for the causal onlooker, all this work takes place below the surface of the sea and hence, goes to the great part unseen. However it helps to know that environmental projects are taking place, making Queensway Quay Marina the most ecologically friendly marina in Gibraltar.