Grenada’s Artificial Reef Project celebrates its 10th Anniversary

The content originally appeared on: The Barnacle News

The Grenada Artificial Reef Project (GARP) is a novel marine conservation project in Grenada celebrating it’s 10-year anniversary in November 2023. This project was started by Dive Grenada with oversight from the Government of Grenada in November 2013. Dive Grenada places conservation and the environment at the heart of its business operations.

Set up in 2013, the project aimed to mitigate the degrading effects of climate change, storm damage and overfishing on the near shore reefs of Grand Anse Beach.  Phil Saye the founder of GARP describes the project. ‘The main objective of GARP was building an effective sustainable artificial reef structure for the regeneration and natural recruitment of marine life’. ‘This has been achieved by an ongoing process of installing a series of underwater pyramid-like structures that are placed strategically next to each other, made from construction blocks to form an artificial reef. This is a legacy project to enable future generations to witness the efficacy of acting now before it is too late.’

The first decade has seen GARP succeed with its ‘proof of concept’. As of November 2023, 80 of the described pyramids have been installed. Expectations have been exceeded in achieving a successful ‘artificial reef’ which has demonstrably increased the biodiversity and biomass of marine life in the area.

Another key focus for the artificial reef project in Grenada has been to provide education opportunities for students at St. Georges University (SGU) and local schools. It is the perfect canvas to enable students to better understand and learn more about the challenges of the marine environment. SGU students completing the BSc. in Marine, Wildlife and Conservation Biology (Honors) programme have been conducting scientific research on the artificial reef to assess the effectiveness of GARP.

In 2023 GARP formed a collaboration with Clean Reefs an internationally respected NGO. They have funded 20 additional pyramid structures and site boundary markers to demarcate the project location. In conjunction with Dive Grenada, Clean Reefs are co-funding four internships that will see students from Grenada trained to an ‘Advanced’ scuba diver certification level and subsequently enable them to assist with monitoring, maintenance and learning how the ‘Grenada Artificial Reef Project’ is helping the marine environment in Grenada.

In the face of climate change, storm damage and overfishing threatening our local reefs, the Grenada Artificial Reef Project (GARP) emerged to help redefine our underwater landscape. Over the last decade this sustainable initiative has not only served as a lifeline for marine regeneration but provided a sanctuary for marine life and transformed diving into an immersive journey through revitalized and resilient coral habitats.  Now, as divers explore these artificial reefs, they not only witness a flourishing ecosystem but become part of Grenada’s conservation narrative, making each dive a unique and impactful tourism adventure.” Ms. Petra Roach – CEO of Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA)

GARP is located close to shore at the southern end of Grand Anse Beach. Visitors are welcome at any time to observe the transformation of this area.