AD Ports Group and CMA CGM join forces with Ecocean to preserve marine biodiversity at Khalifa Port


AD Ports Group, CMA CGM Group and Ecocean, an innovative company serving aquatic biodiversity, have signed a scientific cooperation framework agreement that will see the installation of 48 Biohuts in Khalifa Port.

Designed to restore biodiversity and promote marine life in coastal and harbour areas, the Biohut module is a submerged structure that provides a safe and supportive habitat for marine life to thrive. The modules are specially designed to provide a refuge and breeding ground for a variety of marine species, including fish, crustaceans, and other marine life essential to the health of coastal ecosystems, particularly in environments where it has been disturbed or damaged by human activity.

Biohut® modules come in the form of modular cages, made from eco-friendly, non-toxic materials, offering a solid, protective structure for marine wildlife while minimising its impact on the environment. These structures will be deployed in specific areas of Khalifa Port, where marine life needs support and regeneration. The Biohuts® will be installed in the port in Q1 2024, at the CMA CGM’s future terminal, which is currently under construction. This pilot phase will last 5 years with the inclusion of a monitoring part.

This project is part of both parties’ long-term commitment to marine and terrestrial biodiversity, based on key pillars, including reducing the impact of its activities, restoring fragile ecosystems, protecting endangered species, and supporting research and innovation. By integrating responsible management practices, marine conservation and environmental innovation, marine biodiversity and oceans’ fragile ecosystems can be preserved.

David Gatward, Chief Engineering & Technical Services Officer, said: “We understand that the infrastructure we develop serves our economy, industry, and community. Simultaneously, maintaining biodiversity is crucial for life-sustaining processes. At AD Ports Group ETS, we design with sustainability in mind and retrofit existing structures to ensure a sustainable legacy for the local community. It’s vital to adapt our infrastructure to enhance environmental conditions while consciously designing new projects with sustainability as a primary consideration.”

In recognition of its long-term environmental sustainability strategy, AD Ports Group, has been awarded the Best Sustainability Initiative Award at the ADSG Awards 2023. The award underscores the Group’s innovative and strategic approach to preserving and enhancing the Ras Ghanada Coral Reef – a cornerstone of marine biodiversity in the UAE and the Gulf region. Additionally, this year, KEZAD Group, part of AD Ports Group, earned the prestigious United Nations Investment Promotion Awards 2023, acknowledging their significant role in attracting investment in renewable energy and clean technologies.

Furthermore, AD Ports Group is developing Sustainable Design Guidelines, which aim to standardise the infrastructure design process from a sustainability perspective and maximise environmental benefits.

Aware of its role and responsibility towards the environment, CMA CGM Group has chosen not to carry any plastic waste on board its ships since 2022, as part of their commitment to protecting biodiversity and reduce its environmental footprint. CMA CGM has also redesigned the shipping routes of its container ships to take into account cetacean breeding and migration areas, and when this is not possible, requires its ships to reduce speed to a maximum of 10 knots in certain areas recognised as whale breeding grounds.

CMA CGM Group has also long been involved in biodiversity protection and restoration projects around the world, particularly in the Middle East. Aware of the importance of coral reefs for humanity, the Group is involved in a coral reef restoration project in the United Arab Emirates.

Félix de Carpentier, Group Vice President – Sustainability, CMA CGM, said: “Preserving biodiversity is part of CMA CGM “Acting for Planet” pillar, at the heart of the Group’s sustainability commitments. We have been working for years with experts to better understand the mechanisms of its preservation and support protection and restoration projects which contribute to reducing human activities environmental footprint. Given the scale of the challenge, we strongly believe that ‘getting on board’ with our partners will speed up our action, and we’re delighted with this first example of collaboration with Ecocean in Abu Dhabi, which we hope to replicate in other countries.”

Ahmad Al Khayat, Acting Senior Vice President – Innovation, AD Ports Group, said: “We are delighted to launch this project with CMA and CGM and Ecocean. As a Group, we recognise that through thoughtful, innovative initiatives, we can actively and significantly boost biodiversity. Healthy ecosystems rich in biodiversity not only benefit human health, but also positively impact the economy. By installing biohuts at Khalifa Port, we aim to mitigate the environmental effects of construction. This reflects our commitment to environmental stewardship and our focus on innovation to foster environments where natural flora and fauna can prosper”

Khalifa Port, AD Ports Group’s flagship deep-water port, is a multi-purpose, semi-automated port strategically located between Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Ranked 3rd globally on the 2022 Container Port Performance Index, it handles various types of cargo, providing links to over 90 international destinations and serves 25 major shipping lines. Khalifa Port is home to world-class terminals, including CSP Abu Dhabi Terminal, Autoterminal Khalifa Port, CMA Terminal and Abu Dhabi Terminals.

The CMA CGM Group maintains a strategic presence in the United Arab Emirates. Thanks to its privileged position in the shipping sector, CMA CGM plays an essential role in the region’s connectivity and commercial development. With a regional office in Dubai, covering 43 countries in the region and several key ports in the United Arab Emirates, CMA CGM offers a complete range of sea transport, logistics and intermodal solutions. This local presence enables the company to meet the specific needs of its customers, support international trade and actively contribute to the region’s economic growth by offering innovative solutions adapted to today’s logistics challenges.