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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia launches the Next Stage in the KAUST Reefscape Restoration Initiative

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia launched the next stage of its The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Reefscape Restoration Initiative (KRRI). The KAUST Reefscape Restoration Initiative is the world's largest coral reef restoration initiative. This new stage in the project begins on-the-reef restoration work at Shushah island off the coast of NEOM and aims to conserve and restore 100 hectares of coral reefscape in the Red Sea. In light of, World Ocean Day, this project highlights the Kingdom's commitments and actions to preserve the natural marine environments and promote sustainable development.

Through the use of new innovative technology and state of the art land and sea-based facilities the initiative plans to monitor and manage the reefs and ensure they flourish in the world's largest coral reef restoration, enhancements and conservation endeavour.

KAUST Reef Restoration Initiative began in 2021 and in March 2023 began work at Shushah island. In the first month, KRRI propagated nearly 5,000 corals from a dozen important species, fulfilling nearly half of its 2023 annual target. This was soon followed by a milestone in May when the team recorded the first-ever mass synchronised coral spawning in the region, including a dozen different species.

With numerous corals spawning just once a year and timings previously unknown for the region, it provided KRRI an opportunity to obtain critical information. The data will inform the project’s efforts to effectively harvest and cultivate the vast amount of coral material produced during spawning events to increase the scale of reef restoration.

KAUST Reef Restoration Initiative, Project Director Tom Moore said, “The deployment of ocean-based nurseries, harvesting of corals and propagation of corals during the trial phase, along with determination of timeframe of coral spawning activity in the northern Red Sea, demonstrates the capability and commitment for the full-scale implementation of the project at Shushah and beyond.”

The KAUST Reef Restoration Initiative highlights the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ingenuity of addressing coral conservation protection, enhancement, and restoration. As a Council Member at the International Maritime Organization, Saudi Arabia is committed to championing efforts to protect the marine environment and sharing their experience on projects like KRRI.

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