All you need to know about coral reef exploitation in Algeria

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ALGIERS- The exploitation of coral reef fishing will be limited, in a first phase of five years, to a quota of 6 tonnes per year in the provinces of El Taref, Skikda and Jijel, with the aim of preserving this marine resource, said Director General of the National Agency for Sustainable Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture (ANDPA), Naim Belakri.

“Limited to a quota of 6 tonnes per year, the revival of coral reef fishing will concern, over the next five years, the exploitation areas of El Kala up to the Tunisian border as well as the provinces of Skikda and Jijel », Said Mr. Belakri in an interview with APS.

The coral reef exploitation plan put in place by the ministry defines the exploitable quantity, the number of exploiters and the establishment of an exploitation system based on rotation, explained the same official.

This plan divides the national coast into five zones, each made up of two farming areas. Each mining area is open for a period of five years and then closed for 20 years, with the coral reef needing 15 to 20 years to renew itself. For the first five years, the open area consists of two fishing areas. The eastern one runs from the old fishing port of El Kala to the Tunisian borders. It will benefit from 30 operating permits and an authorized quantity of 3 tonnes per year.

As for the western part of this zone, it includes the provinces of Skikda and Jijel, benefiting from 15 permits each and a maximum of 3 tonnes for all of the two provinces.

“The type of coral reef with high commercial value is the red coral (Corallium Rubrum) called ‘beef blood’, used in the manufacture of jewelry and pharmaceutical products. It is mostly found in the western Mediterranean Sea, ” pointed out the director of Andpa. The plan also details the authorized depth for this fishing, namely between 50 and 110 m deep.

However, this raw coral is banned for export outside the country, in order to support crafts in Algeria, underlined Mr. Belakri.

To enable its transformation, the Agency organized a coral sculpture training session last January for the benefit of 17 artisans from 12 provinces at the Tamanrasset Stone Sculpture Training Center.

Regarding the exploitation process, the head of Andpa explained that authorized fishing is carried out by divers using a procedure called “hammer technique”.

Subsequently, 70% of the quantity exploited is sold to the National Agency for the Processing and Distribution of Gold and Precious Metals (Agenor). The fisherman has the choice between processing the remaining 30% in a workshop or selling the entire quantity to this agency.

Created in December 2014, Andpa participated in the preparation of regulatory texts. A dozen commercial and public service missions were awarded to the Agency after its relaunch in 2020. “With regard to coral reef, Andpa’s mission is to monitor the specifications for coral reef exploitation and to assess annual surface area, ”the same official further explained.

In addition, he said, the inauguration of two local branches of the Agency in the provinces of Skikda and Jijel is planned in the coming days.

The Agency is, also, responsible for the management of other marine animal resources to supply the national market and allow the export of marine products, sources of foreign currency, in accordance with the principles of sustainable development.

“Some resources are not consumed locally and are prized abroad, such as; certain types of crustaceans, tuna as well as eels,” said Mr. Belakri, adding that Algeria has 16 marine areas with a potential of 8 tonnes for export to European and Asian countries.

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