Artificial reef planned in the Bay of Piran

Seča, 19 June - The Bay of Piran will get its first artificial reef this summer, an idea 30 years in the making. Headlined Sea Oasis Piran, the project is led by the Seča-based YouSea Institute, which hopes the reef will become home to a variety of species. The purpose is to study the viability of extracting native species for farming.

The reef will be the first such artificial underwater structure in the Bay of Piran. Consisting of concrete, iron and limestone, it will be located over a kilometre off the coast. It will be 5.5 metres long, 3.5 metres wide and 3 metres high.

Irena Fonda, owner of the well-known Fonda fish farm and director of YouSea, said the inert materials chosen for the reef are such that sea animals love to attach themselves to.

"The basic goal of this pilot structure is to find out and research the possibility of innovative and natural production of food from the sea," Fonda explained.

Using self-constructed breeding equipment, the project will try to develop an effective way to extract young oysters and other native organisms which may be suitable for farming.

This project is the beginning of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture in Slovenia, which is one of EU's guidelines in aquaculture policies, Fonda added.

"The YouSea Institute hopes that Sea Oasis Piran will, because of its deliberate structure, become home to various species of fish and other sea organisms. The goal is for the structure to function as a natural reef," said Fonda.

She believes the reef could also become an place of observation of biodiversity and it may become of interest to other institutions as well.

The institute will also use the structure to study carbon sink capacities. Shells of sea organisms that will live there are mostly made of calcium carbonate, into which CO2 is absorbed.

Sea Oasis Piran will be fully financed by the home improvement chain Bauhaus, which is also the main patron of the YouSea. A few other companies and individuals will donate for the up-keep and observation of the underwater structure and the institute's operations.