The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has asked the Puducherry Coastal Zone Management Authority (PCZMA) to issue guidelines to encourage the use of green artificial modules and reef structures to utilise marine resources in a sustainable way.
The EAC said a proposal to deploy sample artificial reef modules, made of concrete, in the sea near the Solai Nagar fishing village in Puducherry did not require any permission under the CRZ Notification, 2011.
The member-secretary of the PCZMA had sought a clarification from the Ministry of Environment whether the deployment of the artificial reef modules would attract the CRZ Notification, 2011, and whether it could be exempted from statutory clearances since it was carried out for the benefit of the fishing communities and for their livelihood.
Initially, three to four modules, made of concrete and each weighing 500 kg and having a height of 3 feet, would be deployed in the sea bed 3.6 km from the shore. Following this, 200 to 400 modules of artificial reef would be deployed, forming one artificial reef.
The National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management had said a rapid assessment of the possible impact of the concrete material used and the presence of the artificial reef on the marine environment was needed. A programme to monitor the ecological, socio-economic and fishery aspects to evaluate the reef’s after-effects following the deployment was also required as part of the CRZ clearance process. Thus, prior CRZ clearance was required, it had said.
After detailed deliberations, the EAC said the proposed activity did not require CRZ clearance. However, to avoid conflict with other activities, the CZMA concerned may issue guidelines for undertaking these types of activities with certain conditions, such as “the artificial modules/structures shall not be deployed in or over the natural living coral reef or seagrass areas, if any; and the structures shall not hinder the navigational channel or the monitoring stations/units deployed in the sea”, the EAC said.
The EAC said the CZMA or the Fisheries Department should monitor and analyse the changes in biodiversity/fisheries and seabed morphology after complete deployment, while encouraging the use of green artificial modules/reef structures to utilise marine resources in a sustainable way.