- A team of divers is building artificial coral reefs off the east coast of the United Arab Emirates.
- In five years, they hope to cover 300,000 square metres with 1.5 million corals.
- It could take 10-15 years until meaningful levels of coral begin to grow naturally on artificial reefs.
Off the east coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) coral freshly removed from a reef is cut into pieces and replanted by a group of divers in the waters below.
The divers, from the Fujairah Adventure Centre, are building artificial reefs they hope will spur a resurgence in sea life degraded over the years by climate change and development.
The small team and other volunteers have planted more than 9,000 corals over about 600 square metres in the past year. Within five years, they hope to cover 300,000 square metres with 1.5 million corals.
How UpLink is helping to find innovations to solve challenges like this
UpLink is a digital platform to crowdsource innovations in an effort to address the world’s most pressing challenges.
It is an open platform designed to engage anyone who wants to offer a contribution for the global public good. The core objective is to link up the best innovators to networks of decision-makers, who can implement the change needed for the next decade. As a global platform, UpLink serves to aggregate and guide ideas and impactful activities, and make connections to scale-up impact.
Hosted by the World Economic Forum, UpLink is being designed and developed in collaboration with Salesforce, Deloitte and LinkedIn.
UpLink is now running the COVID Challenge, which aims to surface the best solutions and responses to COVID-19.
“It’s a fertile environment for coral reefs, and this diversity has started spreading and has helped bring back sea life,” diver Saeed al-Maamari told Reuters.
Reefs, developing over thousands of years, are crucial to the survival of many marine species, while also acting as a barrier against waves that can help reduce erosion.
As elsewhere, UAE reefs have suffered substantial degradation over the past two decades, mostly due to climate change but also because of land reclamation.
Artificial reefs can help restore reefs that become a habitat for marine life and help combat coral bleaching and other degradation caused by climate change.
But it could take 10-15 years until meaningful levels of coral begin to grow naturally on artificial reefs, marine biologist John Burt told Reuters.
“This is a programme that is going to take a considerable amount of time before it is able to demonstrate efficacy in terms of rehabilitating a coral reef,” said the associate professor at New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus.
The project in Fujairah, one of the poorer parts of the oil-rich Gulf Arab state, has government support with technical expertise provided by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.
Have you read?
Fujairah is where most of the country’s few popular diving spots are located and officials hope the reef will help foster sustainable fisheries and eco-tourism.
“We’re recreating the coral reef environment and system, which will become colonized with fish and increase biodiversity and become a habitat for fish species that are threatened and become a nice environment for diving tourism,” said Ahmed Al-Za’abi, director of the ministry’s marine environment research department.