Can fake reefs save Tunisia's polluted seas?

Could artificial reefs help save Tunisia’s polluted coastline?

Environmental activists are building them from palm tree branches and concrete in an effort to restore marine life in damaged areas of the sea.

Artificial corals are a man-made underwater structure.

The method involves fixing the fake reefs to the seabed with stones to create spaces for cuttlefish and other creatures to lay eggs.

Manel Ben Ismail is the director of ''Notre Grand Bleu’’ – an association of Tunisian divers who want to create a sustainable marine environment.

"We are here now in an area that was unfortunately been subjected to desertification because of the activities carried out by people on land or on the sea, which caused pollution. Therefore, we wanted to be part of the solution by placing the palm branches with stones. This method was tested in the city of Ghanoush, and we wanted to try it here and we hope that it works by restoration of life with the return of fish."

Much of Tunisia’s coast has been affected by environmental issues such as: climate change, untreated sewage, plastics, fish farming and industrial waste.

That's according to the organization's president, Ahmed Souki.

He says installing fake reefs to restore sea life is not a new idea.

''As for this method, it is old. Our ancestors used to use it. After the harvest season, they used to throw palm groves into the sea because it's considered as a hideout for hatching fish, especially squid. Despite the abundance of production at that time, they were thinking about sustainability and the future. We are now exposed to many problems, especially marine pollution, so we wanted to return to this old technique that our ancestors used and are looking for places that have been affected by pollution and we are trying to restore its life with these artificial reefs that represent an artificial and ecological hideout to protect the biodiversity in our sea.''

The organization said it was too early to provide data on the success of its scheme.

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