To increase fish stock and biodiversity in the sultanate, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources (MAFWR) has signed an agreement with the Korean firm Haejoo to implement the second phase of an artificial coral reef project in the wilayat of Sur.
To be built at a cost of RO90,000 and funded by the Oman Indian Fertilizer Company, the project aims to design, manufacture and unload units of purpose-built artificial reef and follow up on the results of its installation in order to create an appropriate environment for fish and marine species to flourish.
The agreement was signed by H E Eng Yaqoob Khalfan Khamis al Busaidi, Undersecretary for Fisheries at MAFWR, and Ryan Paik, general manager of Haejoo.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Paik said that the project will be spread over an area of four hectares and comes after the successful handover of the first phase of the project to the ministry.
“The first phase has been very successful. We did a two-year joint monitoring with the ministry and found that the biomass of the site increased ten times and biodiversity 12 times.”
According to Paik, the seabed at the site was a marine desert.
“The project turned into a marine forest.”
An artificial coral reefs project of the ministry recently won the top prize at the Arab Scientific Society Organisation Awards for the best project in the Arab world in the field of environment in 2020. A total of 90 projects submitted by individuals and institutions from 13 Arab countries vied for the awards.
The MAFWR has implemented large-scale artificial coral reef projects in 14 wilayats of the sultanate. A total of 13,906 artificial reefs were grown in these sites from 2003 to 2019. The development of these projects aims to increase fish stock, provide an environment conducive for fishing and, consequently, increase income of fishermen.
The ministry also seeks to develop the tourism sector by creating an environment ideal for diving and related tourist activities, besides creating an environment suitable to carry out scientific studies.
In 2019, the ministry inaugurated its largest artificial coral reef off the coast of Suwaiq spread over an area of 20km x 7km. The project, called Suwaiq Marine Farm Artificial Reef Complex, has 4,280 coral reef units. Besides benefitting Suwaiq’s fishermen, it will boost tourism.