Environment and Protected Areas Authority launches Al Hamriyah coral reef cultivation initiative

Environment and Protected Areas Authority launches Al Hamriyah coral reef cultivation initiative

SHARJAH, 12th July, 2021 (WAM) -- The Environment and Protected Areas Authority in Sharjah (EPAA) has started implementing a coral reef cultivation project in the Al Hamriyah region of Sharjah.

The project aims to achieve sustainable development of marine life, increase biological cover and biodiversity as well as rehabilitate marine life in the area.

The coral reef farming project in the Al Hamriyah region will contribute significantly to the rehabilitation and restoration of coral reef areas and will aid in the flourishing of marine life and fisheries, as coral reef farming operations have been used successfully to restore balance to the marine environment and achieve long-term sustainability.

Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, Chairperson of EPAA, said, "The coral reef cultivation project in the Al Hamriyah region is divided into two phases. The first involves the installation of bases (metal wires) in shallow areas ranging from six or seven metres deep, and then monitoring them during the growth period, which is usually in the summer after the end of the breeding season because it achieves the highest rates of growth and survival compared to the winter season."

The second stage involves transferring the coral colonies from their places of growth and fixing them in the places to be developed and established as well as following up on survival and growth rates. "The project works to maximise the use of biological material, such as coral reefs, to produce large quantities of colonies instead of obtaining them from where they are," she added.

Al Suwaidi, revealed that four types of hard coral reefs common in the Arabian Gulf have been cultured, which are "Acropora", "Porites", "Turbinaria" and "Platygera".

According to Al Suwaidi, the techniques that have been used in this project are very simple, so that they can be easily replicated in the future, and during this year other techniques will be used to produce a very large number of colonies using one small colony.

Coral reefs are important elements of marine life because they are a refuge and a haven for marine organisms and fish, and they are considered as a national wealth for future generations as they help ensure sustainable food security.

Coral reef farming is not the first project that the EPAA is working on in this regard, as it has already implemented a similar initiative on the Sir Bu Nair Island Reserve, where the coral reef is considered one of the most diverse in the Arabian Gulf. Coral reefs on the island extend to as far as 20 metres deep into the sea, but in recent decades have suffered from severe deterioration due to natural and human factors as a result of many wrong practices.

The EPAA publishes educational awareness material, implements policies for environmental awareness and programmes, and launches specialised campaigns in the field of environmental awareness and education.