Muscat: Oman’s government has banned artificial coral reefs after it was discovered that fishermen had been throwing old tyres and building waste into the sea.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries announced that no licences would be granted for artificial reefs for the next 12 months. Omani fishermen in sandy, coastal areas have created artificial coral reefs by throwing debris into the sea, which then gives coral something to grow on, which in turn attracts fish to the area.
“The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries issued a decision to stop issuing new permitting for the establishment of artificial reefs, temporarily for one year from the implementation of the decision,” the ministry announced.
The decision was to regulate the use of artificial reefs by fishermen, Assistant Professor Hussain Al Masrori from Marine Sciences and Fisheries Department at Sultan Qaboos University said.
“For example, the coast of Batinah is a sandy coast and coral reefs could not grow there because they need rocks and solid areas to grow on them, so fishermen have been throwing tree branches, tyres, building waste and bricks to grow coral which attract the fish to live in.” Al Masrori added: “The problem is that some of the materials that are used by fishermen are harmful to the environment, and fisherman threw certain materials for coral reefs, then declared that he owned that area of the sea.”
Misuse by fishermen
The ministry grants permits to owners of artificial reefs but the process has become random and unorganised, due to misuse by fishermen.
“The Ministry believes in the importance of industrial coral reefs and has undertaken a project to build artificial coral by throwing environmentally safe cement blocks of different sizes in the sea.” Husain added. The area of artificial coral built by the ministry will become available to all fishermen in Al Batinah Governorate.