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Local organisation proposes solution to reef problems
Web Posted - Wed Nov 27 2002
A LOCAL marine organisation has got the “balls” to do something about Barbados’ either dead or dying coral reef, and is hoping that Government will back an idea with the potential to save essential resources needed by this country’s tourism and fishing industries.

The deployment of reef balls, hollow concrete structures resembling “igloos with holes”, is the solution being proposed by the Barbados Marine Trust, a non-government organisation formed just over two years ago by a group of Barbadian citizens concerned about the state of the local marine environment.

Outlining the reef ball plan to media representatives at a Press conference held yesterday on the South Coast, secretary treasurer of the Barbados Marine Trust, James Blades, said they were confident in the balls’ proven ability to rehabilitate coral reefs and their fish populations.

He said following support from the Government’s Coastal Zone Management Unit, it was now up to the Town Planning Department to go into the water to initiate a pilot project, deploying 200 balls on the South Coast somewhere between Asta Beach Resort, and the Coconut Court Hotel, where Blades is the Chief Executive Officer.

Lauding the Coastal Zone Management Unit for its assistance, the marine activist called specifically on Government to work closely with all types of NGO’s in achieving solutions to various problems.

“I really want Government to understand that we need to work together. I think they need to pay more attention to the NGOs in this country, because NGOs work faster,” he stated, noting that much could be accomplished in this way.

“These things (reef balls) are going to go widespread, and we hope people will call. For example, the NCC’s Folkestone Marine Reserve, they have already approached us and they would like to have a deployment in Folkestone and the mere fact that the NCC would like to see a deployment in Folkestone gives me great inspiration,” Blades said.

The hotelier and concerned marine activist described the reef ball as an artificial reef rehabilitative technique fabricated in a fiberglass mould, which had three or four parts bolted together depending on the size. To build the hollow concrete ball, a buoy is placed in the centre of the mould, and concrete poured around the buoy, after which the buoy is deflated.

“The concrete has an additive to make it soft for corals to attach to, and we are doing everything we can to encourage as much coral growth as quickly as possible. Because the balls are hollow, it creates a good house for fish, and we will place them in strategic areas,” Blades noted.

Getting the pilot project under way has so far cost the Marine Trust $40 000, inclusive of the moulds, micro-silica and other ingredients to make 200 balls in three differing sizes. That money was raised with contributions of $10 000 each from the Asta Beach Resort, Coconut Court Beach Resort, Peter Allard of the Graeme Hall Reserve Bird Sanctuary and Charlie Blades.

The idea has also attracted the attention of fisherfolk in the Oistins area, who are getting on board with a project of their own.

“They are looking at taking an area up in Oistins and managing it. That project is being undertaken by the Oistins Fisherfolk Association, and they would like to use reef balls. So it is very important that I get the project into the water and let the project start to work, because the results of the project are going to determine whether or not we can get reef balls in those areas,” Blades stated.

He added that the Marine Trust was encouraging any hotel properties interested in improving the quality of the reefs in their vicinity to also get on board.

“Everything is going on out there and nobody is doing anything to stop it, we’ve got to start taking areas and managing them,” Blades stated.

Links to other Barbados Marine Trust Stories

November 2002, Barbados Marine Trust "Reef Ball Molds Have Arrived"

Sept 2002, Environmental Programme at Asta Beach Resort, Barbados

Barbados Marine Trust Project, May 2002 

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