Artificial reefs boost marine life

Artificial reefs boost marine life

CP launches projects to win back trust

This is CP Group's second effort to create an artificial coral reef under the sea. CP GROUP
This is CP Group's second effort to create an artificial coral reef under the sea. CP GROUP

After taking a lot of from the sea, CP Group has developed projects with local communities and officials to create natural habitats.

The attempt has led to the company sponsoring artificial coral reefs as a habitat for marine life.

The effort is part of the group's sustainability project called "SEACOSYSTEM". CP Group has launched the project to boost trust from society.

It showcases the group's five key elements of sustainability.

These are sustainable and traceable production and market chain, improving local communities' livelihoods, creating animal habitats, improving animal breeding and improving research and development.

Last Thursday, Suphachai Chearavanont, CEO of Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, led the corporate team to launch the artificial coral reef project in Songkhla's Ranot district.

The reef was created by placing 1,000 cement bars on the seabed. The project follows the first artificial-reef making bid conducted last year in Narathiwat and Pattani provinces. The three southern provinces are known as major fishing grounds.

"The company has grown from using natural resources on land and in the sea. We were labelled as marine plunderers but now we are changing the way we do business by achieving sustainability and being friendly to the environment and ecology," Mr Suphachai said.

Based on the coral-reef making team's observations, it found that 140 schools of fish have been seen in artificial reefs which the company helped develop last year in Narathiwat and Pattani provinces.

The team recorded 22 types of edible fish and eight types of ornamental fish.

CP Group has been seen launching sustainable projects -- both commercial and "CSR" (corporate social responsibility) projects -- to show the company is observing United Nations sustainable development goals.

The group said it has tried to make its products eco-friendly which are harvested from responsible and accountable sources.

"Thanks to the locals' efforts to protect the sea we have attempted to make things better by purchasing baby fish that come from responsible harvesting only," Mr Suphachai said.

"We have an efficient traceability system to check the product is from legal fishing activity," he said in response to criticism the company had purchased small fish-ingredients from destructive trawlers to make animal feed stocks.

It pledged that by 2030, its products will be fit for a zero carbon label and produce zero waste in the processing chain.

Artificial coral reefs, he said, will help return seafood stocks into the sea.

Yet the company seeks to do more by providing market channels for selling seafood harvested by local fishers.

He said CP Group plans to sell locally-harvested seafood and products at the company's distribution channels.

CP Group has also carried out a project, the so-called Smart Crab Bank, with local fishery communities in southern provinces.

The innovation received three top awards from the 4th International Invention Innovation Competition in Canada last month.

The project helps fishermen bypass the use of female crabs to hatch eggs.

The Smart Crab Bank used an artificial intelligence (AI) programme to create a conducive atmosphere -- concerning temperature, the amount of light and water quality -- to monitor crab eggs incubated and hatched into baby crabs, before releasing them into the sea.

In the past, fishers needed to use crabs to hatch the eggs -- a cumbersome process with a high loss.

The CP Group's Smart Crab Bank innovation makes crab reproduction easier and more efficient, its advocates say.

It is estimated that 1.5 billion baby crabs were released to the sea under the company's project, although only 0.05% survived.

Vicharn Ingsrisawang, deputy chief of the Department of Fisheries, said artificial coral reefs are one way to increase marine life.

According to the department, it has started to place artificial coral reefs since 1978 in 20 coastal provinces over 584 sites, covering 2,063 square kilometres.

"Yet artificial coral reefs like this are not the only way to replenish marine lives. That requires responsible fish catching methods," he said.

He said Thailand needs to do more to ban destructive fishing gear and stop harvesting during breeding season.

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