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Bahrain launches massive project to protect reefs

Manama, July 30, 2008

Bahrain has launched a major project to protect its coral reefs from damage caused by boat anchors.

It is now piloting an initiative that involves installing mooring buoys above reefs, which fishing boats can then dock with.

The Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife has brought in experts from Kuwait as part of the initiative, which aims to combat harmful fishing practices.

A 10-day pilot scheme has already been carried out in Hayr Bulthama, around seven nautical miles north of Bahrain’s mainland, and if successful could be expanded to all other reefs.

It involved installing several mooring buoys above coral reefs in protected areas, which fishing dhows and others vessels can hook onto instead of dropping anchor.

Officials said anchoring on or near coral reefs could cause substantial damage - both to the reef and wildlife that depends on them.

The project began after Public Commission president Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa invited a team from the Senyar organisation, made up of divers from the Kuwait Society for the Protection of the Marine Environment, to share their expertise.

Senyar has extensive experience in installing such systems and launched a national campaign to preserve the marine environment after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1991, which led to many oil spills along its coast.

Commission public relations manager Zakariya Khonji said the project was vital to safeguard the country’s remaining marine resources.

’Coral reefs take a long time to develop, maybe 100 years to grow only a few centimetres,’ he told the GDN during a Press conference at the Commission’s office, Juffair.

’When fishermen throw their anchor in the sea it sometimes lands on coral reefs and damages them.

’Now, when they are working in the Hayr Bulthama area, they will be able to tie their boats to the buoys and won’t need to throw their anchor in the sea.’

Public Commission fisheries resources director Anwar Mansoor Al Hariri added the initiative was part of plans to clean up Bahrain’s marine environment.

However, he said no budget or timeline had yet been finalised for the scheme.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | project | protect | Coral reefs |

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