Muscat – Forty-three divers launched a project to develop artificial reefs in the wilayat of Quriyat on June 23, in cooperation with the Environment Authority (EA), with the objective of protecting the fisheries sector and preserving marine environment.
Artificial reefs are used by marine conservationists to restore coral reefs around the world. These provide a stable growing environment for corals, and habitat for fish and other marine organisms.
Calling themselves Quriyat Divers, the group headed by Juma Khamis al Amri, launched the first phase of the project to instal artificial reefs in areas where corals are disappearing.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Amri informed that Quriyat Divers was established in January 2019.
“The idea for the project evolved over time as the team’s divers found many areas in Quriyat where coral reefs were disappearing. In cooperation with EA, we launched the project on June 23. It will continue for two years.”
Amri informed that the divers are taking turns; every weekend, a team of eight dives from 8am to 11am to instal the artificial reefs.
“We will work in two phases. One is to instal artificial reefs, and the second involves transferring of some coral reefs to other places. We aim to grow four types of coral – Acropora, Porites, Turbinaria and Platygyra.”
Besides growing new corals and transferring cultivated corals to areas affected by natural factors, the divers will raise awareness among fishermen, diving enthusiasts and the community about preserving corals.
Amri noted that Quriyat Divers is also working to rid the sea of pollutants, which will help fishermen. Additionally, the divers hope to encourage interest among community members in marine activities by conducting environmental workshops for school students and fishermen.
The biggest challenge for the divers during reef installation operations and carrying out clean-up efforts is the same which entangles and kills marine creatures – fishing nets. Getting entangled in nets in the depth of the sea is every diver’s worst nightmare.
“Occasionally, we also encounter strong waves, high water temperature and fear getting stuck in coral reefs.” But the divers are determined to continue the project with the support and encouragement of their families.
“We also need financial support and diving equipment to complete the reef installation project,” Amri added.