Qatargas, in collaboration with the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) and Qatar University (QU), has stewarded a unique and ambitious Coral Management Programme (CMP) focused on sustaining and preserving Qatar’s marine biodiversity.
The programme, aligned with the Environmental Developmental Pillar of Qatar National Vision 2030, comprises ‘Artificial Reef Deployment and Coral Relocation’ as well as the first of its kind land-based Coral Nursery.
Officials visit AFRC
The programme also includes a long-term, comprehensive monitoring plan for the relocated corals, with eventual handover of all relocation zones to the MME for incorporation into the State of Qatar’s protected natural reserve.
Qatargas said it “has a proud legacy” of marine biodiversity protection. Since 2007 the company has relocated over 7,500 live corals from nearshore pipelines to offshore protected areas, including the deployment of over 400 artificial reef modules at several marine locations around Qatar.
Qatargas’ current CMP has been implemented as mitigation for the North Field Production Sustainability (NFPS) Project. As part of the programme, over 150 sets of hybrid artificial reefs were deployed near Al-Ghariya in northern Qatar.
These reef modules were locally fabricated using an environmentally friendly concrete mix, and deployed following a comprehensive Marine Environmental Assessment (MEA) of the Al-Ghariya site.
The deployment was followed by meticulous relocation of 1,250 live corals from the NFPS project site to Al-Ghariya.
Additionally, the CMP includes the establishment of a unique land-based ‘Coral Nursery’ at the Aquatic Fisheries Research Centre (AFRC) in Ras Matbakh in northern Qatar.
Over 400 live corals were taken to the nursery for coral husbandry and the extracted corals were rehabilitated and fragmented. The fragmented corals were then out-planted to carefully selected recipient sites north of Sheraoh Island.
To get a first-hand understanding of the nursery programme, officials from MME, Qatargas and QU recently paid a visit to the AFRC lab and interacted with the scientists and researchers.
The Coral Nursery has the potential to become a National Coral Bank, thereby contributing to future marine biodiversity and coral protection projects, both in Qatar and the region.
Moreover, Qatargas noted it will optimise the Technological Readiness Level (TRL) of the procedures and facilities for propagation of local coral species in a land-based nursery. This unique programme is expected to pave the way forward for sustainable marine ecosystem preservation methods.