Already settled in Qatar, reef recovery time can be reduced from 50 to 100 years to 7 to 15 years with these artificial ceramic wood-like reefs.
One of the great dilemmas for marine protected areas is to ensure that marine ecosystems overcome the problems associated with ‘shifting baselines’: to what extent have marine areas been driven from their ‘natural baseline state’? ”Due to human activity and natural changes. Unfortunately, conservation plans often select baselines that already represent a disturbed state. The result is a continuing decline in ecosystem integrity, as next generations of managers reset their baseline to even lower marine ecological states. A partial solution to this is restoration – an active form of conservation. However, restoring coral reefs (whether coral reef art or ugly electric cages) has not been an easy task given the long period of time required for coral growth – between 0 , 06 and 3.9 cm per year.
Fortunately, a new product called EcoReef has been brought to market and it is proving to be an effective coral reef restorer that could work for reefs in the Middle East in the Gulf and Red Sea.
Ecoreef is a patented ceramic rock structure that is easily assembled and anchored to the seabed (see above). Their wooden shape mimics the stag horn growth of some Acroporas while providing the foundation for algae and corals to colonize the complex structure and channels to protect juvenile fish.
EcoReefs have many advantages. First, the modules are made of ceramic, an ideal material as it is pH neutral, non-toxic, and chemically inert in seawater. Although at first they may appear to be strange “foreign” structures covering the body. seabed, over time corals and other invertebrates fill in and overtake the structure to complement the living reef and surprisingly recreate a natural (albeit unoriginal) setting that attracts fish and restores an ecosystem to an area that has been sadly pulverized by blast fishing or scraped by trawlers.
It is estimated that with these ceramic structures, the recovery time of sprayed reefs can be reduced from 50 to 100 years to only 7 to 15 years. this is very good news for marine environmentalists.
Second, EcoReefs projects are very cost effective and relatively easy to scale and assemble in the field. According to the website, EcoReefs provides more habitat for more organisms at a lower cost per organism compared to other common artificial reefs (tires, biorock, nubbin corals, rock piles) lowering the unit cost to 2, $ 10 versus $ 31.80 for tire reefs.
This superior performance is attributed to the large amount of usable surface per EcoReefs module (1.27 m2) combined with the great suitability of the ceramic for the settlement of invertebrates.
Finally, Ecoreefs are easy to assemble and transport to sea using smaller, low impact boats.
Seacology and EcoReefs worked together to restructure the reefs on Manado Tua Island, Indonesia, which were completely wiped out in 2003 and have since recovered. This short clip below shows how EcoReef has contributed to restoration for the benefit of the local community and the ecosystem – it would be nice to see this introduced into the evolving marine protected areas of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. .
EcoReefs was first used in the Middle East by Dolphin Energy in Qatar, as part of their corporate social responsibility projects, to restore local reefs.
Ahmed Ali al-Sayegh, CEO of Dolphin Energy, said, “EcoReefs facilities slow water currents, harbor small fish that keep corals clean and alive, and provide the microenvironments necessary for successful growth of fish. corals. Dolphin is happy to have found a system that will contribute in a sensitive and positive way to the marine environment in which we work.
Despite this good news, we must avoid a situation in which solutions such as Ecoreefs legitimize the destruction of reefs on the pretext that they can easily restore them. Once destroyed, reefs can never return to their original state and although they may “appear” healthy, many ecosystem processes may not be restored even with EcoReefs.