DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCAE) has started installing artificial caves in the fishing waters off the Ras Al Khaimah coast.
The project is part of an agreement with the Delma Marine to build artificial habitats that provide a safe environment for breeding of fish and other marine species, according to a senior official.
Salah Al Rayssi, director of the fisheries sustainability department at the ministry, said the move aims to enhance fish stocks in the UAE waters and protect the country’s natural heritage.
“The artificial caves will also bring fishing areas closer to the shore in order to reduce the cost of daily fishing trips and the maintenance frequency of fishing boats and engines,” he said.
Up to 100 artificial caves will be installed in Ras Al Khaimah waters in the first stage of the project, he disclosed.
“Additional 100 caves will be installed at two sites in Hamriya area in Sharjah as part of the second stage, starting this October. In total, the ministry plans to instal 1,000 caves across the UAE by end-2017,” Al Rayssi said.
“Delma Marine will manufacture the caves using eco-friendly materials and position them in areas identified by the ministry in collaboration with concerned environment authorities,” he explained. “As part of its drive to develop living aquatic resources, the ministry issued ministerial decision No. 103 of 2017 on the building of artificial marine habitats.”
The decree allows government agencies, scientific research institutions, universities and fishermen’s cooperative societies as well as individual fishermen registered with the ministry to build artificial caves, he elaborated.
“Individuals and entities interested in the construction of artificial caves must obtain a permit from the concerned environmental and municipal bodies and provide a map of the proposed site,” Al Rayssi said.
Prior to installation, Delta Marine inspects the caves to ensure the materials comply with the specifications outlined in the ministerial decision. “The company also monitors the locations of the caves and reports any violations to the ministry. The decree prohibits building artificial caves within three nautical miles of the shore as well as in marine reserves and near state-owned islands,” Al Rayssi said.