Tue 28-02-2017 19:56 PM

Ministry of Climate Change and Environment issues decision to regulate artificial reef building

DUBAI, 28th February, 2017 (WAM) -- The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, has issued a Ministerial Decision No. (103) of 2017, regulating the development of artificial reefs.

The resolution promotes putting eco-friendly reef balls in the sea as the safest and most effective way to create sustainable marine reef habitats.

"The decision follows the directives of our wise leadership to seek innovative solutions to pressing environmental challenges in line with the UAE’s economic growth. It aims to safeguard the sustainability of living aquatic resources, one of the most prominent strategic objectives of the Ministry and a key element of the UAE Vision 2021, besides enhancing fish stocks in the UAE waters and protect the country’s natural and cultural heritage," said Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment.

"The move is aligned with our efforts to preserve the marine environment while promoting food security and sustainability of local production in co-operation with the concerned government agencies and strategic partners from the private sector," he added.

The new decision enables government agencies, scientific research entities, universities and fishermen’s co-operative societies, as well as individual fishermen registered with the Ministry, to build artificial reefs.

Whether for the purpose of scientific research or for promoting environment-friendly fishing or for protecting marine life, those interested in developing artificial reefs need to apply for a licence by submitting a set of documents, including a map of the proposed site, among others. Materials used to produce reef balls must comply with standard specifications.

Mimicking natural reefs, the reef balls quickly attract a wide variety of marine organisms such as algae, corals, molluscs, crustaceans and fish, and become permanent additions to the aquatic environment. While it takes about five years for the balls to develop into full-fledged reefs, growth is already visible after a few weeks.

The ministerial decision prohibits building artificial reefs in areas within three nautical miles of the shore as well as in marine reserves and near state-owned islands. Areas under government authorities, scientific research bodies, military installations, oil exploration, oil and gas pipelines and telecommunications as well as inland waters such as lakes and creeks, shipping lanes and natural coral reefs are off limits.