Coral Research and Nursery Farm Project
M. Romeo, Manuel
Mustafa, Syed Faisal
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In the framework of the Coral Management Plan for the North Field Expansion Project (NFE) and North Field Production Sustainability Project (NFPS), Qatargas has partnered with the Environmental Science Center (ESC) to develop the first land-based coral nursery in Qatar. This nursery plan includes the extraction of 1000 corals' colonies from the NFPS and NFE pipeline corridors, north of Ras Laffan, and hence their transportation to the nursery facility, rehabilitation under controlled husbandry conditions, fragmentation, out-plantation to carefully selected recipient sites and long-term monitoring (up to 48 months). The first two batches of 200 corals were extracted in March and outplanted in April 2021. Results of the first two monitoring events, after 44 and 66 days, were quite encouraging for the seven coral genera tested. Attachment success was very high, with 92% to 97% of the outplanted fragments being detected during monitoring. No bleaching, disease or mortality was recorded so far. The coral propagation methods used in this project (i.e., fragmentation, husbandry and outplanting), although widely used, have been tested with a restricted number of branching coral species and usually in in-situ nurseries. Our project is among the first to apply this type of approach (land-based nursery) to reef restoration in the Arabian Gulf.