A massive coral reef garden the size of 60 football stadiums is to be created in the UAE - and is set to drive up eco tourism while safeguarding vital marine life.
Work is under way on the Fujairah Cultured Coral Reef Gardens, the largest project of its kind in the country, which will include the cultivation of 1.5 million coral reef colonies over the next five years and will span 300,000 square metres, helping to provide a boost to food security efforts.
The ambitious project was launched by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, in partnership with Fujairah Municipality, Dibba Fujairah Municipality and Fujairah Adventures and under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Mohammed Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, on Saturday.
The major attraction is in line with the ministry's mission to protect the UAE's biodiversity and champion sustainability.
Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said preserving the country's biodiversity is at the heart of the initiative.
“Protecting and preserving the sustainability of the environment and of our natural resources is integral to the legacy of the founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed,” said Dr Zeyoudi.
“The preservation of the country’s biodiversity is also a prime area of focus for the UAE leadership today as outlined in the UAE Vision 2021. The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has put in place multiple programs that aim to carry out the country’s national strategy for biodiversity in collaboration with other local environmental authorities in the country.
“The protection of fish within the coral reefs will allow it to breed and grow. The Ministry is keen on promoting the project as an ecotourism destination. It is also anticipated to encourage the spirit of volunteerism and community work as the cultivation of the coral reefs will depend heavily on the volunteering efforts of the youth.”
Dr Al Zeyoudi said that the Ministry has organised several specialized workshops for young volunteers to offer insights on the cultivation of coral reefs and their sustainability.
Hassan Salem Al Yammahi, director of Dibba Fujairah Municipality, said successful conservation requires a team effort.
“Effective conservation of the marine environment requires the collective efforts of government authorities, fishermen, beachgoers and the tourism sector as a whole. Therefore, Dibba Fujairah Municipality is keen to develop ecotourism and ensure its sustainability through working together with its partners in the public and private sectors to protect the natural wealth of the area. Initiatives in this regard include the installation of artificial caves to deflect underwater currents and provide a safe environment for marine organisms to breed.”
The launch event included a clean-up of marine areas on the east coast of Fujairah.
The gardens will be home to 1.5 million colonies of coral species, selected based on feasibility studies and research undertaken by MOCCAE.
The gardens will provide a safe haven for a large number of local fish species as well and boost their populations by protecting their eggs and larvae from predator fish and strong water currents that threaten their survival.