Artificial reefs to bolster Bahrain’s seas
Manama, September 21, 2011
More than 2,500 artificial "reef balls" will be submerged off the coast of Bahrain in a bid to boost the country's marine resources.
The cement spheres will be dropped at pre-determined locations in the country's waters over the next year to create artificial reefs measuring 1sq km in total.
Ten potential areas will be chosen for 2,560 reef balls that are designed to encourage the growth of new marine life - providing fresh habitats for Bahrain's declining fish stocks.
A deal that paves the way for the project was signed yesterday between the Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife and Posford Haskoning Environment Gulf.
It will cost BD1.1 million ($2.97 million) and is due to be completed by the end of December 2013, with experts predicting a 10 per cent increase in fish stocks within five years.
Fishermen will initially be banned from areas where the reef balls are located to promote the growth of new marine life.
"Bahrain is a country that significantly depends on the sea and fishing and this why we have come up with a strategy to help develop marine resources in the country, especially increasing available stock," said Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi, who was present at the signing.
"Protecting fisheries resources for future generations is a duty that we have been tasked to handle by the Cabinet in line with Vision 2030. Amongst our projects that we are currently doing or those in the pipeline are planting new artificial reefs and developing existing ones. Other plans include supporting fishermen and introducing fish species into the sea."
Dr Al Ka'abi said the artificial reefs would attract fish and encourage breeding.
"Having new habitats for fisheries and marine life means that we have given ourselves a better yield since we will be increasing the breeding areas," he explained.
"We expect an increase of 10 per cent whenever the project is functional, which we believe would be after five years. The project's area will cover 1sqkm and will be divided over two years.”
"In the first year locations will be chosen and the special cement balls will be planted, while the second year will be dedicated to monitoring,” he added.
He said the locations would be selected based on specialised environmental studies to ensure the project's success.
"Water currents, acidity and depth will be taken into consideration, besides the proximity to passing boats and the distance between artificial reefs and natural coral reefs."
The deal was signed yesterday at the Public Commission in Manama by its resources and services general manager Saleh Al Fudhala and Posford Haskoning Environment Gulf managing director Halel Abdulrahman.
Public Commission fisheries director Jassim Al Qaseer said remote sea locations would be selected for the project.
"For the first batch of artificial reef balls we have selected north of Muharraq and new locations are being identified for the upcoming batches," he said. "Fishermen will not be allowed to come close to the balls' locations until they are refurbished and the Coastguard will be informed to keep them away."
Posford Haskoning Environment Gulf environmental scientist Michael Arora explained the ball design was copyrighted by the US-based Reef Ball Foundation, which charged for using its design.
"The balls will be made from special strong cement mixed with other ingredients that will reduce acidity and ensure compatibility for fisheries and marine resources," he said.
"We expect the balls to be planted by the end of next year and we will immediately begin the next phase of monitoring fisheries' and marine resources' response and acceptance of the new environment." – TradeArabia News Service