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Qatargas presented its marine biodiversity projects to a wide range of stakeholders during a workshop jointly hosted with Qatar University at the Aquatic Fisheries Research Center (AFRC) in Ras Matbakh on 23 February 2023.
The forum provided a unique opportunity to share biodiversity expertise and best practices from environmental and marine scientists, researchers, and practitioners from the Ministry of Municipality, QatarEnergy, Qatargas, Qatar University, AFRC and other key energy sector companies including ExxonMobil, TotalEnergies, North Oil Company, Shell, and Ras Laffan Olefins Company (RLOC).
During the inaugural session of the workshop, Qatargas showcased its proud legacy of environmental initiatives dedicated to preserving Qatar's marine biodiversity, including a range of projects focused on the essential role of coral in protecting the country's vulnerable coastline while providing a sustainable habitat for vibrant populations of fish, sea urchins, algae, and varied flora and fauna. As the world's premier LNG company, Qatargas has an environmental obligation that extends beyond regulatory requirements and towards environmental sustainability with a focus on protecting the country's rich marine biodiversity. This is an important element of the company's long-term environmental strategy and a key enabler to the Environmental Development Pillar of the Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030 and Qatar National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2015-2025.
Since 2007, Qatargas has relocated over 12,000 pieces of live coral from nearshore pipelines to offshore protected areas, including the deployment of over 1,200 artificial reef modules to enrich the local marine environment. Locally fabricated, these reef modules use an environmentally friendly low pH concrete mix; they were installed at recipient sites following comprehensive Marine Environmental Assessments (MEAs). Qatargas' multi-year Coral Management Programme (CMP) also includes long-term, post-relocation monitoring with handover of all relocation zones to the regulatory authorities for incorporation into the State of Qatar's protected natural reserve.
The workshop also focused on Qatargas' collaborative partnership with Qatar University on a first of its kind coral nursery inaugurated in 2021 at AFRC in Ras Matbakh. The latest insights and results from coral propagation at the coral nursery were presented and discussed with technical experts and the wider audience, including the potential for the Qatargas coral nursery to be utilised as a national coral bank, thereby contributing to future marine biodiversity and coral protection projects, both in Qatar and the region. This unique programme is expected to pave the way forward for sustainable marine ecosystem preservation methods and optimise the technological readiness level of procedures and facilities for propagation of local coral species in a land-based nursery.
Workshop participants also visited the coral nursery where they received a first-hand account of coral husbandry in the laboratory or nursery setting, while witnessing juvenile coral in their growing phase following coral fragmentation for future out-plantation to nearshore recipient sites.
Qatargas was proud to host this workshop together with Qatar University to provide a strong technical platform for environmental practitioners to share marine biodiversity plans, initiatives, and achievements, and maximise synergies in this important area of national focus.