“Marine Ecosystem Recovery through Artificial Reef” project aimed primarily to restore marine biodiversity and ecosystem functionality as well as productivity of the sea. The second aim of this project is to promote marine ecotourism. The project was funded by the European Union and supported by the Ministry or Environment.
FON opted to create artificial reef (AR) structures from concrete following state-of-the-art methodology, which has been tested in many places around the world and found to be sustainable, long lasting and effective at supporting diverse marine life.
Ecosystem recovery efforts were invested in Jounieh Bay, which has faced various forms of anthropogenic marine disturbance. The site for AR sitting in the bay was carefully defined following field survey and an assessment of various activities around the bay; the selected location is ecologically favorable and does not conflict with other activities in the bay. FON received the approvals of the Ministries of Agriculture and Transport for the project and the location; the Ministry of Environment is the primary supporter of project.
In designing the artificial reef structures, FON was inspired by the work of the Reef Ball Foundation and followed the FAO-GFCM guidelines for AR. We developed 3 different modules; each addresses a set of ecological values; combined, the modules deliver a broad spectrum of ecological niches to attract a wide diversity of marine life. The setting of the AR landscape also follows the FAO-GFCM guidelines where FON created 1 complex composed of 5 groups integrating 26 sets with 202 units. Combinations of the 3 modules were diversified in all ways and measures in order to offer all potentials for a wide diversity of marine life to inhabit the structures. The surfaces of the structures were treated to assist in the attachment of vegetation and the settling of crustaceans and invertebrates. The complex will provide an introduced surface area of 2500m2. Spaces between structures, sets and groups were also studied to allow the possibilities for the various marine forms that live at sea.
Through this complex, FON wants to restore the food chain promoting a more rigorous marine ecosystem and a proliferation of marine life boosting sea productivity. The AR landscape will become a protected area to preserve this center of proliferation from any infringing activities.
FON promoted marine ecotourism through initiating divers on the value of the AR design, aim and marine biodiversity in order to assist at developing the touristic attraction.
Fishermen, fishermen cooperatives and local community around the bay were consulted and engaged to comprehend the value of the AR to enhance marine biodiversity and eventually productivity, which will help improve their livelihood.
Close collaboration between FON and local authorities, civil society, fishermen, beneficiaries as well as national and international bodies will be continue hand-in-hand to expand the development and benefits of the CONCRETE ARTIFICIAL REEF GARDEN OF JOUNIEH BAY.