This project sets out to build an artificial coral reef at the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat, at the Taba border crossing between Egypt and Israel. The reef will be constructed out of outdated or damaged armored weapons (tanks, cannons, etc.), which will be donated by Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, and will be deployed in the ocean. The reef will be accessible to swimmers, divers, and boats from Israel and Egypt alike. This artificial reef will reduce tourists' pressure on the currently severely damaged natural reefs in this region, and will assist in their recovery. The reef will turn to a tourist attraction and will demonstrate the ability for environmentally aware economic development. Scientific guidance and monitoring will ensure that the construction of the reef will not damage the natural environment, and will help achieve rapid growth and development of the marine life community in the reef and its surroundings. This, first of its kind, artificial reef will be named after King Abdalla the 1st, President Sadat and Prime Minister Rabin, the three Middle East leaders whom were assassinated for their pursue of peace.
The coral reefs and the tourism industry in the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat are suffering from a common problem: there are too few corals and too many visitors. These human pressures cause constant degradation of the reef in the Eilat nature reserves and of reefs all through the Gulf from Taba to Dahab and Sharem el Sheikh. Due to the tourist boom, the Jordanian city of Aqaba is expected to suffer a similar problem in its marine nature reserve. The region around the border crossing of Taba and Taba bay is especially suffering from over visitation. The reefs and dive sites are very limited and due to the enormous pressure are being rapidly degraded. As an example of the pressure- every day, just about any time of the day, one can see divers waiting in a long line to go into the small caves north of Taba. Unless action will be taken, it is only a question of time until these reefs will be totally destroyed and will have to be taken off the swimmers and divers map. The solution- artificial reefs The problem is basically that there are not enough locations for tourists to enjoy the ocean, the corals, and their beauty. Therefore people crowd over the few reefs and kill them with attention. The solution could be limiting the number of people in the water (the solution taken in Hawaii) which will obviously damage the tourist and diving industries. Or, adding more diving locations and by doing so disperse the crowd. This means building artificial reefs. Artificial reefs have been proven to turn into prime locations for swimmers and divers, especially if the objects used for creating the reefs carry interest of their own-- ships, airplanes, etc. For example, wreck diving is the main diving attraction along most of the eastern coast of the US. From the conservation point of view, submerged artificial structures in the northern part of the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba are rapidly settled by fish and coral, and, as has been studied by Dr. Y. Benayahu, transferring soft corals into artificial reefs can dramatically increase the rate in which the reef is turned to a colorful living structure. Further, larvae stocks created by animals living in artificial reefs can increase settlement and recovery of natural reefs. The material-- old weapons. A key factor in constructing an artificial reef is the material from which it will be built. The material must be non-toxic, but also very sturdy and such that it will not corrode rapidly. Materials often used are cement, rubber tires, and steel. All these should be made heavy so that they will not move with waves and storms and not will fall on an unsuspecting visitor. The problem with these materials is that they are very expensive to manufacture, and do not carry any tourist value until they are covered with corals. However, the Middle East is stock-piled with tanks, armored vehicles, cannons, etc. all made of high quality, heavy metal. A large portion of these war machines are out dated, damaged, or in short, not useable for any military purposes. Such objects draw attention and visitors in numerous places all over the world and can be used as ideal parts for artificial reefs. Indeed, small scale experiments were conducted in Israel by sinking an old navy missile ship, and at an other location, an old tank. The location-- Taba The location suggested for the artificial reef is the northern part of Taba bay. This area is just north of the water front of the Taba Hilton hotel, which is in Egyptian territory. But due to the odd shaping of the territorial waters in this area, it is mostly in Israeli territorial waters. In this fashion the reef will be accessible from Israel and Egypt alike, without the need of crossing a border. Taba bay was a long disputed area between Egypt and Israel, and therefore there is a "poetic justice" that it will become the site of a peace reef. From the economic side, this location is suffering from over visitation causing a degradation of the reef. Due to this degradation the dive clubs, and mainly the club of the Hilton Taba, and of the new Princess Hotel are already suffering from reduced activity. From the environmental point of view- there are very few coral sites left in this location so no damage will be created. In fact the suggested location is a natural reef which has been destroyed by human activity such as shelling and coral breaking. The natural substrate is rock (dead corals) with large sandy patches covering some of the rock bed, so that the tanks will not be buried by sand. By using only the northern side of the bay, sand coming with floods in the Taba Wadi will not damage coral settlement on the reef. Project outline Therefore, this project sets out to build an artificial coral reef at the northern part of the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat, near the Taba border crossing between Egypt and Israel. The reef will be set at a location were natural reef has been destructed by human activity. The reef will be constructed out of outdated or damaged armored weapons (tanks, canons, personnel carriers, etc.), which will be donated by armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, and will be deployed in the ocean. The reef will be designed as a tourist attraction and will accessible to swimmers, divers, and boats from Israel and Egypt alike. The reef is suggested to be set at water depth ranging from 20 to 10 m. It will be built so that glass bottom boats can safely pass above it while still seeing most of it, and that swimmers with only a mask can enjoy it as well. Therefore the structures will be set to leave a clearing of 3 m at the shallow part (for swimmers) and of no less then 5 m at the rest (for boats). Scientific guidance and monitoring will ensure that the construction of the reef will not damage the natural environment, and will help achieve rapid growth and development of the marine life community in the reef and its surroundings. The artificial reef will be named after King Abdalla the 1st, President A. Sadat and Prime Minister Y. Rabin - the three Middle East leaders who were assassinated for their pursue of peace. This artificial reef will reduce tourists' pressure on the currently severely damaged natural reefs in this region, and will assist in their recovery. Designed as a tourist attraction, the artificial reef will demonstrate the ability for environmentally aware economic development. The project will be carried out in two stages. A. An initial demonstration stage, involving deploying only 3 tanks. This stage will test the suitability of armored vehicles for construction of artificial reefs, test the techniques and work involved, and the verify the suitability of the location. This first demonstration stage will also test the suitability of expanding this type of reef to the east side of the gulf, possibly near the border between Jordan and Saudi-Arabia. B. A final stage. This stage will consist of up to additional 50 weapon pieces, depending on the specific landscape and artistic design of the reef. Construction expenses for this stage will be supported by donation of non governmental international organizations and companies.
If you want to express your support to the project; If your company may wish to partially sponsor this project; If you are part of a media organization and would like to participate in the coverage of the project. Red Sea Conservation Alliance, e-mail: email@example.com
* Note: This proposal was first published and discussed in various channels 4 years ago, but 'freezed' by later of political devolpments. It is our intention to re-open this project proposal to further discussions.
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