- Title: New Red Sea project aims to protect marine life in Saudi Arabia
- Date: 14th July 2020
- Summary: MALLORCA, SPAIN (JULY 9, 2020) (REUTERS VIA ZOOM) (SOUNDBITE) (English) RESEARCHER AT KING ABDULLAH UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY (KAUST), CARLOS M. DUARTE, SAYING: "The red sea offers hope because in the northern Red Sea, corals have proven be more resilient and being resistant to these elevated temperatures. We are now doing research to understand what it is special about the corals that allow them to cope with temperatures that there are other reefs will be there. So we have found a number of mechanisms that are responsible for their resistance."
- Embargoed: 28th July 2020 11:52
- Keywords: 2030 Development KAUST Neom Red Sea Red Sea Project Saudi Arabia
- Location: THUWAL, NEAR TABUK, AT SEA AND UNKNOWN, SAUDI ARABIA / MALLORCA, SPAIN
- City: THUWAL, NEAR TABUK, AT SEA AND UNKNOWN, SAUDI ARABIA / MALLORCA, SPAIN
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Climate Adaptation and Solution,Climate Change
- Reuters ID: LVA006CMS7RRP
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: PART QUALITY AS INCOMING
Researchers in Saudi Arabia are working on supporting marine life in the Red Sea as part of a plan by the Saudi government to establish a large resort to encourage eco-tourism in the region.
The project includes establishing a major no-take Marine Protected Area to utilise coral reefs largely resistant to increasing temperatures as a result of global climate change and rebuild fish populations.
Researchers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) are applying selective breeding technologies where resilient coral reefs are chosen for breeding and then re-included in their natural habitat.
Coral reefs at the Red Sea are particularly resistant to the harmful impacts of climate change due to the high salinity of the ecosystem which helps coral reefs produce certain chemical compounds that resist high temperatures, KAUST researcher Carlos M. Duarte explained.
A G-20 workshop was held in Riyadh on Sunday (July 12) to discuss the country's Red Sea Project including the role of the G20 countries to provide policy solutions to protect marine biodiversity from further degradation.
Corals, which cover about 1 percent of the Earth's surface, are animals that settle on the ocean floor and support more sea life than any other marine environment. As well as supporting thousands of species of plants, fish and other sea life, they draw huge numbers of tourists, scientists and divers.
The oceans have been warming significantly, with the average global ocean heat content in the top 700 metres rising over half a degree Celsius since 2012, severely impacting corals.
A 2018 report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said coral reefs would be all but wiped out if global temperature cannot be kept to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Saudi Arabia aims to support 30 percent of its coral reefs' population over a marine area of 5,373 km over the next two decades, researchers projected.
The development of the Red Sea project includes the establishment of a new airport due to open in 2022 between the cities of Jeddah and Tabuk.
Saudi Arabia plans to develop resorts on 50 islands off the Red Sea coast, offering a nature reserve, coral reef diving and heritage sites.
Red Sea Development Co, backed by Saudi Arabia's sovereign fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF), plans to build the first phase by 2022. It aims to attract 300,000 tourists a year in the first phase and 800,000 to 1 million once the development is complete.
(Production: Nael Shyoukhi and Mohammed Benmansour)
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