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‘Artificial reef farms in Oman enhancing ocean sustainability’

17 Mar 2021

The largest industrial marine farm in the Gulf, Suwaiq Marine Farm Artificial Reef Complex, is 90 per cent complete, and expected to be fully concluded by April. One of the most important ocean sustainability projects in the sultanate, the marine farm covers an area of 20kmx7km of the seabed off the Suwaiq coast and consists a total of 4,280 units of purpose-built artificial reefs. The project was commissioned by Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Water Resources (MAFWR) in 2018.

Acknowledging the importance of Oman’s artificial reef programme, led by MAFWR, Arab Scientific Community Organization (ASCO) awarded the sultanate the best environmental programme in the Gulf in Doha in December 2020. 

Ryan Paik, general manager, Haejoo Engineering & Constructions, the head contractor of Suwaiq project, said, “Due to coastal developments and climate change, the sharp decline of fisheries stock is a global issue that we face today. The marine farm projects are one of few solutions that are proven to enhance ocean sustainability by providing much needed habitat and breeding ground for coral reef ecosystem to thrive in the foreshore.

Haejoo is a South Korean firm  specialised in ocean sustainability projects world wide. The company has built eight artificial reefs across sultanate’s coasts since 2013 and is working closely with the government as well as large corporations delivering CSR initiative with marine environment focus. The company has worked with Jusoor Foundation, Omifco and Al Mouj Muscat in building eco-sustainable habitat system for aquatic ecosystem. 

“The fisheries sector is one of the main pillars of economic diversification along with tourism in line with His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik’s Oman Vision 2040. Benchmarking other fisheries developed countries such as South Korea and Japan, MAFWR has been in the forefront of developing marine farm projects to sustain aquatic resources and boost fisheries revenue of local fisheries,” said Paik. 

The marine farm artificial reef complexes in Oman have proven their productivity by boosting fish biomass and biodiversity by ten folds, informs Paik. 

“The other benefit is eco-tourism opportunity the marine infrastructure provides for SMEs and local economy. Al Mouj-funded Seeb artificial reef has shown great potential over five years to add sustainable values for both residents and visitors creating new tourism destination in the metropolitan area.” 

He added that marine environment plays a very important role in food security for the next generation, especially for a country like Oman where fisheries hold important value in economy and culture. “We will continue to provide eco-sustainable solutions to sustain aquatic resources, protect the coastline and add value to fisheries and tourism sector through the marine farm programme across the sultanate’s coasts.”

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