MARAPA, in partnership with the PROGRAMA TATÔ, is implementing a Project for the Installation of Artificial Reefs in the coastal area of the northern part of the island of São Tomé (São Tomé and Príncipe) funded by the National Petroleum Agency and BP Exploration STP Limited.
This project entitled "Budo Kiá" (in the local dialect, "stone that raises fish") aims to distribute the fishing effort in traditional fishing areas and therefore decrease the pressure on natural reef areas, create new habitats on poorly productive seabeds, thus increasing the available fish resources and the fishing income for artisanal fishermen and fish traders, ensuring that the best scientific and environmental practices are taken into consideration.
This project also has the participation and technical assistance of a specialist from the Ecology and Restoration of Riverine, Estuarine and Coastal Habitats Group - ECOREACH - of the Centre of Marine Sciences of the University of Algarve. Francisco Leitão, who has a PhD in artificial reefs and dynamics of coastal communities, was in São Tomé Island from April 10 to 25, providing training in the functional ecology of artificial reefs to the promoters of this pioneering project, as well as to different entities of society, including technicians from the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Fisheries, the Navy Captaincy and representatives of local fishermen from the Northern region, among others.
A committee to monitor the artificial reefs has been set up with representatives of public institutions linked to the sea and fishing and representatives of the target fishing communities so that this project is implemented in a participative manner with the involvement of all parties, aiming for greater ownership, understanding and better management of the artificial reefs.
The sites have already been pre-identified and we are now preparing the next phase which will be the building, installation and monitoring of the artificial reefs.
It is expected that the placement of these artificial structures will reverse the trend of decline in artisanal fisheries recorded in recent years, which motivated the development of this project.