In the Gulf of Aqaba on the Jordanian coast, the tourist industry has boomed. The coastline of Jordan is only 27 kilometers long, and it is crammed with ports, industrial sites, hotels, and factories. All this development however is damaging the marine environment which is why the Royal Marine Conservation Society are working to protect it. They are trying to reach an agreement with tourists, with dive centres, with authorities in Aqaba, in order to keep the sea as clean and healthy as possible.”
Regular clean-up dives use professional divers, assisted by people from dive centres and students who are trained in schools. They literally dive down to the seabed, collect all the rubbish they find there and put it into nets so it can be hauled ashore. The aim is also to raise awareness. Last year in just one clean-up dive around half a tonne of rubbish was collected in 30 minutes. Experts are monitoring the quantities and types of rubbish collected. The Gulf of Aqaba is a fragile ecosystem, home to about 500 species of coral. One of the ways of preventing further damage is planting marine coral in man-made coral beds. The coral is propagated in coral nurseries and then planted out into manmade reefs made of variously-shaped cement blocks. The aim is to create new coral gardens which will reduce pressure on natural reefs from tourism, industry and shipping. But coral grows at a rate of around 1 centimetre a year so this is a long term project. Balancing the needs of the environment with the need to develop tourism and other industries in the area is not easy. But it is vital – for everyone’s benefit.