Reef cubes to help protect Cornish coastal towns and enhance marine habitats
A company hopes to increase fish stocks, protect coastal infrastructure and create jobs with its innovative reef cubes.
ARC Marine has made progress with its hollow concrete cubes as a way to help recreate safe reef habitats for oysters, crabs and fish, but also as a way to strengthen underwater coastal defenses.
The company’s cubes are also made from granite dust which is waste from the granite and clay mining industries in China.
Co-founder Tom Birbeck said ARC Marine’s reef cubes are the perfect alternative to importing premium granite from Norway and dumping it on the seabed to protect cables from offshore wind turbines, oil rigs or as a means of strengthening port defenses.
He said: “Our cubes help reduce the height and energy of the waves before they reach coastal defenses.
“They help create a protected area where fish and shellfish stocks can increase, and have a much lower carbon footprint than importing high-quality granite blocks from Norway or using cement and plastic from Norway. poor quality for making concrete mats which are currently used to protect submarine cables.
“Our goal is to manufacture our blocks close to our projects in order to further reduce their carbon footprint. Reef cubes really are a no-brainer.
The award-winning eco-engineering company, which has a laboratory in Brixham, South Devon and works with the University of Exeter on a lobster reef in Torbay, has its headquarters and manufacturing site in Truro, Cornwall.
Mr Birbeck said the company had had its best business year yet despite the pandemic and the delays it caused.
Since its inception in 2015 by Tom and James Doddrell, ARC Marine has deposited 500 reef cubes on the seabed at various locations in the UK and the Netherlands, including 155 last year alone.
Reef Cubes are the only artificial reef technology on the market that does not contain plastic or Portland cement, which means it has a 90% lower CO2 footprint than standard concrete products.
Mr Birbeck said the company is working with the Lobster Hatchery in Padstow and Fal Oysters to see if reef cubes can help increase the number of native oysters in Cornwall, which would help improve local ecosystems and also be of benefit for the local oyster industry.
ARC Marine also has projects in Looe, Newlyn and St Austell Bay, to strengthen coastal defense and stimulate marine ecosystems at the same time.
He added: “We have huge opportunities for offshore floating wind turbines in Cornwall. This means that miles of power cables will be routed to and from the mainland.
“Instead of throwing in granite boulders to protect them, we believe reef cubes are a much better solution that will be better for the environment, boost local manufacturing and jobs, and also protect expensive infrastructure. This is the message we are trying to get across. offshore industry and local authorities. “
If ARC Marine projects are given the green light, Mr Birbeck said the company would invest £ 300,000 in its manufacturing site in Truro to produce and deploy the reef cubes, which would also mean the creation of additional jobs.
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