Biorock installation off Gouyave near completion

Team of volunteers preparing to deploy the Biorock fabricated steel structure off Gouyave

by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada

  • Fabricated steel structures deployed on Monday off the coast of Gouyave
  • Gouyave chosen because of its heavy reliance on the marine environment

The Gouyave Biorock Pilot Project moves into another crucial phase. The fabricated steel structures were deployed on Monday, 25 June 2018 off the coast of Gouyave.

The initiative driven by the Grenada Community Development Agency (GRENCODA) along with the Gouyave Fishermen Cooperative Society Limited, seeks to replenish coral reefs which will ultimately promote breeding ground for various species of aquatic life. The site will be designated as a new Marine Protected Area (MPA) as part of the initiative to ensure the protection of sustainable livelihood for the fishing community which depends heavily on marine resources.

Starfish shaped Biorock steel structure among many deployed off Gouyave

Assisting in the installation of the project is Thomas Goreau, President of the Global Coral Reef Alliance (GCRA), a non-profit organisation dedicated to scientific research on coral restoration. GCRA has a track record of working alongside other environmental groups around the world to restore and maintain coral diversity.

Goreau was invited to Grenada to help undertake this project by the Grenada Coral Reef Foundation headed by Roland Baldeo. Goreau is very optimistic that the project will yield success as they now embark upon another phase. He said a low voltage electricity supply will be connected with the underwater steel structure to promote the growth of mineral crystals such as calcium carbonate and magnesium hydroxide which in turn leads to the formation of corals.

“In a few days of connecting the electricity, you are going to see the red rust on the steel structure disappear and turn grey and black because iron oxide will convert back to iron and then it will turn white eventually leading to the formation of limestone that corals are made from. Now on top of that we will be transplanting naturally broken fragments of coral and tie them onto the structure and in a few days, it will turn darker in colour and cement itself onto the structure and it will proceed to grow — typically 5 times faster than normal.”

Goreau said the community of Gouyave was chosen to launch this pilot project because of its heavy reliance on the marine environment. The sister isle of Carriacou has also been chosen for this pilot project. “Two years ago, we went to assess areas that need coral restoration around Grenada and Carriacou, and Gouyave is one of the sites that we picked, because we wanted to work with the fishing community. We will also be installing the structure in Carriacou, but the success of this project is going to depend on how well we manage it.”

A team of volunteers, some of whom are St George’s University Marine Biology students, assisted in the deployment of these structures out to sea together with technical assistance provided by National Marine Protected Area Coordinator Olando Harvey.

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