Buoys Protect Vital Coral Reefs
Permanently moored buoys are shown here
above the water line.

DHAHRAN, August 12, 2009 -- Saudi Aramco recently installed 36 permanently moored buoys around the coral-reef islands of Jana, Karan and Kurayn to protect vital coral reefs.

The buoys are one way Saudi Aramco demonstrates its environmental stewardship, its role in environmental protection and citizenship.

The new system of buoys, installed by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), is for use by fishing and recreational-dive vessels. The buoys offer boaters an environmentally friendly alternative to anchors.

“Every time an anchor is dropped on the reef, coral is destroyed,” said Yusef Fadlalla, a marine environmental specialist at EPD.

“The Egyptian Red Sea alone is host to over 1,000 mooring systems with enormous conservation and economic returns. In protecting the reef-building corals of the offshore islands, we conserve them as critical centers of biodiversity in the Gulf.”

Buoys Protect Vital Coral Reefs
A buoy is tethered here below the water line.

Throughout the years, coral reefs have suffered damage and breakage from boat anchors. More often than not, anchors or their steel chains are wedged between coral colonies. Sometimes, they are dragged along the seafloor as the vessel moves with the wind and currents or when it raises the anchor. That damages or destroys vast tracts of coral habitat.

The buoys around the coral reef islands allow vessels to simply approach and hook their lines to the buoy pickup line without causing any disruption to underwater life. This method has proven successful around the world.

As well as being a host for undersea biodiversity, the coral islands serve as critical nesting sites for birds and egg-hatching habitats for endangered species of marine turtles.

As boaters use the buoys, coral reefs will thrive and fulfill their crucial role in maintaining the ecosystem. They will remind fishermen, divers and other users about the importance of protecting sustainable resources.

(Article by Dina Gharbo)