The project aims to rebuild local coral reefs in Hong Kong's southern waters and encourage secondary and primary school students to be ambassadors - 'CORAL REEFStorator'
HONG KONG, Sept. 14, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Sino Group and the Hong Kong Innovation Foundation, in partnership with archiREEF Limited ('archiREEF'), Ocean Park Corporation ('Ocean Park'), and The Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel Hong Kong (the 'Hotel'), today announced CORAL REEFStoration – Hong Kong's first cross-sector collaborative project ('the Project') for local coral preservation and restoration – at an event officiated by Miss Wong Shuk Han, Diane, JP, Under Secretary for Environment and Ecology. The Project leverages Ocean Park's marine conservation expertise and uses the world's first 3D-printed reef tiles in terracotta from archiREEF to rehabilitate the coral reef habitat in Hong Kong's southern waters by seeding rescued local coral fragments at the restoration site. Public engagement activities will also be launched to inspire children from 5 to 13 years old to understand the coral ecosystem, and gain in-depth knowledge of coral conservation through snorkelling and hands-on coral husbandry experiences.
Coral reefs occupy about 1% of the ocean floor, yet they are home to more than a quarter of all marine species. The coral communities, however, face challenges such as climate change, marine pollution, habitat damage and overfishing activities, these all greatly affect marine biodiversity and ecological balance. Hong Kong's marine biodiversity is immensely rich with a long coastline of nearly 90 hard coral species. In recent years, global warming and rising sea temperatures have intensified coral bleaching, leading to the extensive loss of coral communities.
Speaking at the ceremony, Miss Wong Shuk Han, Diane, JP, Under Secretary of Environment and Ecology, thanked all organising partners during her speech to initiate Hong Kong's first cross-sector collaborative project for local coral preservation and restoration, which brings groundbreaking meaning towards engaging the community in coral preservation and marine biodiversity. She said, 'I am delighted to witness the business sector making full use of technology, and leveraging 3D coral reef tile printing solution by archiREEF to initiate this project. Community engagement, which constitutes an important part of the project, helps promote the message of coral conservation and restoration. The government, the private sector, professional institutions and the general public should join forces to solve problems brought by climate change and protect the natural environment. I hope everyone in society can contribute to a better future of our natural environment.'
The Coral REEFStoration project will involve ecological research conducted at Deep Water Bay which will analyse past and current coral habitat conditions using a scientific approach, in the hope of reconstructing the original appearance of coral reefs and restoring local coral species. By utilising the reef tiles 3D-printed in terracotta, invented by archiREEF – an environmental-social enterprise of The University of Hong Kong – coral fragments can attach to the structure and have a higher chance of survival. The reef tiles will be nurtured by a professional husbandry team at Ocean Park's back-of-house coral nursery facility, and be transferred to the seabed of Deep Water Bay upon rehabilitation and conservation, with continued monitoring of coral growth. The Project aims to rebuild 20 square metres of artificial reefs seeded with more than 120 pieces of rescued coral fragments over the next three years to recreate liveable habitats for local marine life. To allow the general public to understand the story behind the coral restoration, a variety of guest visits and experiences, as well as an internship programme for tertiary students, will be arranged at Ocean Park's coral nursery facility.
Dr David M. Baker, Co-Founder at archiREEF and Associate Professor of Ecology & Biodiversity at The University of Hong Kong, shares, 'Like Hong Kong - coral reefs are bustling cities under the sea. Science and technology solutions can give reefs a boost and mitigate stress caused by climate change and coastal development. Our 3D-printed reef tile is an eco-friendly and scalable solution to restoring hard surfaces to the seabed where corals can be attached – eventually forming a new reef. Our reef tile helps corals have the best chance of survival – up to 98% survivorship by avoiding abrasive sediments on the seabed, and providing biocompatible surfaces for coral attachment. We hope that through the widespread use of these technologies, we can kickstart new coral reefs in the region, and develop hotspots for adult coral populations to establish themselves, and reproduce.'
Mr Paulo Pong, Chairman of Ocean Park Corporation, adds, 'Ocean Park is dedicated to connecting people with nature. Our marine animal husbandry and veterinary teams have been working closely with local authorities, marine science experts and academics on the research and rehabilitation of corals as well as other rescued and confiscated marine fish and animals. We are excited to join hands with Sino Group, the Hong Kong Innovation Foundation, archiREEF and The Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel on this project. I strongly believe that we can take coral restoration in Hong Kong waters to the next level through the Park's rich experience in conservation and education, and further contribute to the sustainability of our ocean through experiential programmes for students and community engagement efforts that educate the public about local coral diversity and the urgency to protect them.'
Mr David Ng, Group Associate Director of Sino Group said, 'Sino Group believes that innovation and engagement are keys to promoting sustainable development. We are committed to exploring innovative solutions with like-minded organisations, and cultivating a spirit of innovation in our younger generation through projects supported by the Hong Kong Innovation Foundation. We are honoured to join with visionary organisations on this project, combining Ocean Park's experience in nurturing marine life and archiREEF's world-first environmental technology in local coral conservation to enrich marine biodiversity. Education and community engagement are crucial to environmental protection and biodiversity. Leveraging the outreach capacity of this project, we hope to provide the public with educational and engagement activities and raise awareness about marine conservation like the Ambassador programme for schools and the coral workshop programme organised by The Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel, which allows children to learn interactively.'
Starting at the end of this month, the 'CORAL REEFStoration Ambassador Programme' will recruit 100 passionate students aged 8 to 13 to learn about the ecosystem of local coral reefs, how they contribute to the biodiversity of marine life, and some basic techniques for marine conservation. In addition to joining online conservation webinars hosted by professionals, each ambassador can visit Ocean Park's Grand Aquarium to view coral habitats and apply the knowledge and skills acquired from STEAM-related courses to promote coral conservation messages and programmes in schools. Ten students demonstrating outstanding performance will be selected as 'Star Coral REEFStorators' and continue to gain in-depth knowledge of coral conservation through physical and interactive experiences, such as fun-filled snorkelling, local eco-tour and exciting coral husbandry experiences.
With sustainability in mind, The Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel Hong Kong offers a range of green experiences for guests to enjoy during their stays. The Hotel is joining hands with archiREEF to host coral-themed activities for children aged 5 to 12, including 3D reef tile printing and coral biology workshops. Though these fun and interactive workshops, children will get to understand the importance role of corals in the marine ecosystem, learn to identify the structure of coral species, the threats they are facing from climate change and human activities, and the potential of 3D printing technology as a reef restoration solution. The workshops will help to nurture a respect for nature and active participation in environmental protection and conservation from an early age. An archiREEF coaster and postcard are also placed in all guest rooms to spread the message and invite guests to become ambassadors for marine conservation.
Please click here for further details of the project.
(From left) Ms Barbara Pang, General Manager of The Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel Hong Kong, Ms Ysanne Chan, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Financial Officer of Ocean Park Corporation, Dr David M. Baker, Co-Founder of archiREEF Limited, Ms Diane Wong Shuk Han, JP, Under Secretary for Environment and Ecology, Mr Paulo Pong, Chairman of Ocean Park Corporation, Mr David Ng, Group Associate Director of Sino Group, Mr Ivan Wong, Chief Executive of Ocean Park Corporation, and Ms Vriko Yu, Co-Founder &
Dr David M. Baker, Co-Founder of archiREEF (right), introduced how the CORAL REEFStoration project utilises the world’s first 3D-printed reef tiles in terracotta to rehabilitate the coral reef habitat in Hong Kong’s southern waters to Mr Paulo Pong, Chairman of Ocean Park Corporation, Ms Diane Wong Shuk Han, JP, Under Secretary for Environment and Ecology and Mr David Ng, Group Associate Director of Sino Group, (from left to right).
The Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel Hong Kong is joining hands with archiREEF to host coral-themed activities to inspire children from 5 to 12 years old to understand the coral ecosystem.
Hong Kong Innovation Foundation