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TN government begins deployment of artificial reefs along Chennai coast to support marine life

Fisheries minister D Jayakumar flagged off and personally supervised the deployment of 200 units of artificial reefs over three nautical miles off the Urur Kuppam fishing village in Besant Nagar.

Published: 05th August 2020 07:51 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th August 2020 07:51 PM   |  A+A-

Fisheries minister D Jayakumar flagged off and personally supervised the deployment of 200 units. (Photo | Ashwin Prasath, EPS)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu government on Wednesday began a major exercise to deploy artificial reefs along the Chennai coast. A total of 30 sites have been chosen in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and Chengalpattu districts for the purpose.

Fisheries minister D Jayakumar flagged off and personally supervised the deployment of 200 units of artificial reefs over three nautical miles off the Urur Kuppam fishing village in Besant Nagar.

The idea is to revive traditional fishing grounds of small fishermen and create a cluster of artificial reefs, which act as natural breakwaters by reducing wave energy, along the coast with the focus on fragile coastal stretches as Tamil Nadu is experiencing increasing recurrence of extreme weather events and erosion of beaches.

The concept is nothing new for Tamil Nadu. Since 2006, the Department of Fisheries has deployed artificial reefs in 35 coastal sites spread across eight districts and later in 2014, the International Funding for Agricultural Development (IFAD) assisted the Post Tsunami Sustainable Livelihoods Programme of Department of Rural Development and Panchayat Raj to deploy reefs in six coastal sites, both with technical assistance of the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).

GS Sameeran, director of fisheries, told The New Indian Express that the government has approved two projects. "The government has accorded permission for installing artificial reefs in 30 locations off shore of Chennai and the neighboring districts, which were affected in the 2017 oil spill. The restoration claim of Rs 10 crore received from insurers of shipping companies is being used for implementation of the project."

As per the GO, the insurers of two merchant ships BW Maple and MT Dawn Kancheepuram that collided off the Ennore coast resulting in a massive oil spill have deposited Rs 141 crore, including the restoration claim of Rs 10 crore, besides providing a bank guarantee of Rs 84 crore.

"The compensation received has been disbursed to the affected fishermen of Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram. Further, as a measure to improve the coastal marine fishery resources through stock enhancement, it has been proposed to deploy artificial reefs in the coastal villages of these three districts," Sameeran said.

Later, another project costing Rs 18 crore under the Gaja Rehabilitation Project was sanctioned where artificial reefs would be installed at different offshore locations from Cuddalore to Ramanathapuram covering the entire east coast of Tamil Nadu.

CMFRI scientist Joe K Kizhakudan, who was offering technical support to the fisheries ministry for the project, told The New Indian Express that a combination of three types of artificial reef modules - Grouper, Fish and Crustacean - were used. "These modules would start supporting life (growth of corals) from the third month and would take two years to mature and stabilise. These structures are known to act as a perfect habitat for marine life which helps in augmenting the productivity of the marine ecosystem. It increases the available area for food, shelter and breeding activities for fishes and other marine organisms. It also enhances the fish production through increased breeding activity and increases the survival of young ones."

Kizhakudan said the deployment activity would continue till the end of this month to cover all the 30 sites provided the weather cooperates. "Each day, about 200 units would be dumped into the sea weighing close to 150 tonnes."

The fisheries director said a safety mechanism would be developed to protect these sites from trawler boats.

More from Tamil Nadu.

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