Ministry of Climate Change and Environment Issues Decision No 103 of 2017 Regulating Building of Artificial Reefs


Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has issued Ministerial Decision No (103) of 2017 regulating the building of artificial reefs. The decree promotes deploying eco-friendly reef balls in the sea as the safest and most effective way to create sustainable marine reef habitats.

His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “The decision follows the directives of our wise leadership to seek innovative solutions to pressing environmental challenges in line with the UAE’s economic growth. It aims to safeguard the sustainability of living aquatic resources – one of the most prominent strategic objectives of the ministry and a key element of the UAE Vision 2021 – as well as to enhance fish stocks in UAE waters and protect the country’s natural and civilizational heritage.”

He added: “The move aligns with our efforts to preserve the marine environment while promoting food security and sustainability of local production in cooperation with the concerned government agencies and strategic partners from the private sector.”  

The new decree allows government agencies, scientific research entities, universities and fishermen’s cooperative societies as well as individual fishermen registered with the ministry to build artificial reefs.

Whether for the purpose of scientific research, to promote environment-friendly fishing or simply to protect marine life, those interested in building artificial reefs must first apply for a license, submitting a set of documents including a map of the proposed site. Materials used to produce the reef balls must comply with the accredited specifications.

Mimicking natural reefs, the reef balls quickly attract a wide variety of marine organisms, such as algae, corals, molluscs, crustaceans and fish, and become permanent additions to the aquatic environment. While it takes about five years for the balls to develop into full-fledged reef systems, growth is already visible after a few weeks.

The ministerial decision prohibits building artificial reefs in areas within three nautical miles of the shore as well as in marine reserves and near state-owned islands. Areas of government authorities, scientific research bodies, military installations, oil exploration, oil and gas pipelines, telecommunications, inland waters such as lakes and creeks, shipping lanes and natural coral reefs are also off limits. 

Source: Originally published on February 28th, 2017. 

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