THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : As the state decides to instal artificial reefs for augmenting the marine ecosystem and reduce the erosion level of the shore, the demand for exploring its tourism potentiality is also gaining momentum. As a case in point, exponents of the proposal are citing the example of Kovalam (Covelong) Village, 40km south of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. The development of artificial reefs at Kovalam has led to the influx of marine life which in turn resulted in the place becoming a hub for scuba diving. A similar initiative, they say, can be implemented in the state by the Fisheries and Tourism Departments.
“Across the world, scuba-diving tourism centred around artificial reefs is on the rise. Likewise, wreck-diving, where artificial reefs are set up on sunken vessels, is also attracting a large number of tourists,” said an officer of the Thiruvananthapuram District Tourism Promotion Council. According to him, the plausibility of intentionally sinking vessels or the purpose of creating an artificial reef can also be explored.
“Scuba diving-based tourism might help in the development of the local economy. But the feasibility of the same will have to be studied by the Fisheries and Tourism Departments. While doing so, any impact on the preservation of endangered species and habitats should also have to be considered,” added the officer.
At the same time, founding director of Friends of Marine Life, Robert Panipilla said, “We recently conducted an underwater study on artificial reefs which found that they fail to meet their very purpose. The reason is that they are installed without considering the coastal and marine ecology.
Also, the local fishermen were not taken into confidence. Although there are some ideal spots in Thiruvananthapuram where scuba diving and wreck diving could be carried out with substantial success.” As part of a geospatial mapping examination conducted by Friends of Marine Life at Kovalam, it was found that there are around eight diving spots. “More such spots will have to be identified and its visuals aggressively promoted among tourists if the government is serious about the proposal. The eight spots were found in a small area of 300 sqm. There are sure to be many more.
The identification of such spots is essential. Because each spot has its unique ecosystem. At some places, one might get the chance to encounter mussel ecosystem, while at other places, the ecosystem will be coral,” said Robert. Earlier, the state government had given its nod to instal 400 artificial reefs along the coast of Thiruvananthapuram with special focus on fragile coastal stretches. As per the plan, of the total artificial reefs, 200 will be monolithic triangular-shaped built of reinforced cement concrete (RCC) module and the other 200 will be of monolithic Ferro triangular cement modules. The total cost of the project has been estimated at `3.75 crore.
lExperts are citing the example of Kovalam Village in Tamil Nadu where artificial reefs have led to the influx of marine life which in turn resulted in the place becoming a hub for scuba diving
lThe state government has already given its nod to instal 400 artificial reefs along the coast of Thiruvananthapuram with special focus on fragile coastal stretches