Artificial reef pilot study
Scientists world over have been trying to give nature a helping hand and creating artificial coral reefs. These reefs help create enabling environment to various species and increase the bio-diversity in the region as lots of fishes, invertebrates and corals start attaching to the artificial reef and create an enabling ecosystem for all. Whereas anything submerged like ships or even unwanted structures can help in creating an artificial reef, scientists are these days specially designing and deploying artificial reefs made of steel, concrete and limestone. In Maharashtra, The Mangrove Foundation has sanctioned a project to conduct a ‘Pilot study for installation and monitoring of artificial reefs for biodiversity enhancement along the seawall of the coastal road project Mumbai (South) reclaimed region’.

This project was sanctioned earlier this year in April 2022. The contract for the study has been given to CSIR-NIO (National Institute of Oceanography) under CSIR. Accordingly an MoU has been signed between Mangrove Foundation and CSIR-NIO and the first installment of Rs. 52.8 Lakhs have been released.

According to previous plan the artificial reef was to be deployed in the month of August or September. However, there were some procedural delays in procurement of required material as well as hiring of personnel for the project. Also, CSIR-NIO scientists felt that the high waves during the monsoon was not helpful. So they had suggested to Mangrove foundation that it would be best to deploy during the fair weather either in August or September 2022. It is natural that scientists would be cautious to avoid any weather related impact on the project. The deployment of the artificial reef is now expected to be in the months of November – December 2022.

Planned artificial reefs can help in economic benefits as divers can dive in such spots and enjoy the beauty of the various marine organisms in the reef. Due to the increased fish numbers fishermen also get attracted to such spots unless fishing is prohibited.