BiorockŪ: New Technology for Growing, Restoring,
and Farming Coral Reefs and for Coastal Protection

Indonesian Conference on Coral Reef and Coastal Zone Management

Sanur, Bali, Indonesia

May 2002 

Thomas J. Goreau and Wolf Hilbertz

Global Coral Reef Alliance and Biorock Inc.

New York and Bangkok

December 26 2001 


            Coastal populations around the tropics face an unprecedented crisis of vanishing fish and shellfish that they rely on for food and income, caused by over-harvesting and because coral reefs are dying throughout the world. Only large-scale recovery of healthy coral reef habitat and shifts from harvesting wild fish and shellfish to mariculture production can reverse this accelerating collapse. We have developed unique new technology, BiorockŪ, to grow whole new reefs and restore damaged ones by greatly increasing the growth rate of corals, thereby providing superior habitat for all reef organisms and greatly boosting their populations. Biorock technology directly speeds up growth of coral skeletons that build the reef framework and improves coral health so they are able to resist environmental stresses that would normally kill them. The growth rate of oysters, clams, and other attached reef organisms are also accelerated, while free living organisms like reef fish, lobsters, and octopus flock to them in high densities. Biorock reefs are covered with bright rapidly growing corals and swarming with fish, making them ecotourism attractions of great value to hotels whose guests have no good reef to snorkel in. Biorock technology is the best known technique for restoring damaged coral reefs, building new ones, and greatly increasing populations of reef fish and shellfish: it finally makes it possible for fishermen to grow their own reefs, and sustainably harvest the increased fish, lobster, and oyster production they produce. Biorock structures maintain coral reef ecosystems despite environmental stresses that would normally kill them, such as pollution and global warming, allowing creation of Coral Arks to maintain species diversity from extinction caused by global change. Biorock can be used to grow solid limestone rock structures in the sea of any size that can serve as breakwaters for coastal protection, but unlike normal breakwaters, Biorock structures get stronger with age and are self-repairing. They cost less than concrete or rock, making them the most economical method for protecting coastlines against erosion. Biorock materials can be grown as strong as concrete in any shape for construction purposes in the sea or on land. Biorock projects are currently underway in Indonesia, Maldives, Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Panama, and Mexico, with interest from many more countries. Biorock technology can be applied on any scale, is ideally suited to renewable energy, and opens for the first time the potential of large scale coral reef restoration and the conversion of fishing communities from destroyers of marine resources to underwater gardeners. By growing reefs that produce far more food and income than they now do, the Neolithic Revolution from hunting to agriculture can be finally brought to the tropical ocean after a 10,000 year delay. Biorock technology is patented: Biorock Inc. has exclusive global rights to the technology for commercial purposes in mariculture, environmental and ecological restoration, shore protection, and production of building materials, and the Global Coral Reef Alliance for uses with non profit organizations, such as fishermen's cooperatives, community groups, and marine parks. Both organizations are prepared to license, train, and work directly with all interested partners to restore tropical seas and create new economic production by farming coral reefs. Investment in large-scale projects is urgently needed before it is too late to save our marine resources.

BiorockŪ is a registered trademark of Biorock, Inc. The BiorockŪ Process is owned by BiorockŪ, Inc.