Pros and Cons of Breakwaters


Breakwaters are designed to help control the erosion of a shoreline. Some of them are created naturally through the development of coral reefs and other sea structures, while others are man-made to help a sensitive shore be protected from the forces of incoming waves. They may be fixed or floating and provide a number of pros and cons once installed.

What Are the Pros of Breakwaters?

1. They reduce the effects of erosion.
Some shorelines have homes and businesses built on them close to the water. As the waves hit the shore, the land slowly erodes into the waves. Over time, this puts the structures and their value at risk.

2. They offer recreational opportunities.
Breakwaters can create isolated areas of water that can be used for recreational purpose. The calm waters are perfect for swimming, boating, waterskiing, and other similar activities. This can even bring in tourism dollars depending on the location.

3. There is still habitat access.
Breakwaters don’t interfere with wildlife habitats. They may change how wave transmission energy occurs, but this doesn’t change the fact that animals will still have a place that they can call home.

What Are the Cons of Breakwaters?

1. They are not always effective.
If a region is subjected to fast-paced, high energy waves, then a breakwater isn’t going to provide any benefit. They can become detached from their moorings, have high maintenance costs, and still allow erosion to occur. Even semi-permanent fixed breakwaters struggle under these circumstances.

2. They create a new set of environmental dangers.
Many local ecosystems have toxins that float out of them while the waves bring nutrients in. When a breakwater is created and put into place, this transportation method is disrupted and can create toxic conditions.

3. Many do not provide emergency protection.
If a severe storm were to encounter a breakwater, either floating or fixed, then there is a good chance that the increased wave energy could overwhelm the structure. This means additional structures, at an additional cost, would be needed to provide a necessary level of protection.

The pros and cons of breakwaters are important to examine because the right placement with the right construction methods can save a shoreline. The costs of installing a man-made structure must be carefully evaluated with these key points to determine if an investment into one would be beneficial.