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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

More than 1,000 artificial caves to be installed in the UAE

Artificial caves in Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah will enhance fish stocks

More than 1,000 artificial fish caves will be installed by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Photo Courtesy: Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.
More than 1,000 artificial fish caves will be installed by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. Photo Courtesy: Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

Fish in the Northern Emirates will have a new place to call home by the end of the year. The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is building more than 1,000 artificial caves to give fish and other marine species safe breeding habitats.

The first stage of 100 caves have been installed in the waters of Ras Al Khaimah and another 100 will be placed at two sites off the Sharjah’s Hamriyah coastline in early October.

The artificial caves are installed within three nautical miles of the coast in marine reserves and near state-owned islands. Their construction will enhance fish stocks and spare fishermen the cost of long journeys to sea.

“The project is part of the ministry’s Artificial Caves Program, launched in 2016, that seeks to support the fishing industry through helping fishermen increase productivity,” said Salah Al Rayssi, director of the fisheries sustainability department at the ministry. “The ministry's ongoing efforts in this regard aim to safeguard the sustainability of living aquatic resources and enhance food security in the country, a key element of the UAE Vision 2021.”

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Habitat preservation is crucial for the revival of local fish stocks, which decreased by 80 per cent between 1978 and 2011, according to the Emirates Wildlife Society. Scientists have warned that coral reefs risk disappearing within our lifetime.

Earlier this year, the ministry issued a ministerial decision on building artificial marine habitats, allowing government agencies, scientific research institutions, universities and fishermen’s cooperative societies and registered fishermen to build artificial caves that met with ministerial guidelines. It follows a series of regulations in recent years to increase fish stocks, such as limited fishing licences, seasonal bans and establishment of protected areas.

The artificial caves are built and installed by Delma Industrial Supply and Marine Services. Materials must be eco-friendly and locations must comply to ministry guidelines. No caves will be built near oil and gas pipelines, shipping lanes, military installations or natural coral caves.