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Heritage club maps Abu Dhabi's marine and coastal habitats

posted on 07/03/2006: 1312 views

Emirates Heritage Club (EHC) has completed the documentation of marine wildlife and coastal habitats of Abu Dhabi Emirate to help in environment protection efforts. The document in the form of an atlas aims to help protect marine environment and facilitate sustainable coastal development in Abu Dhabi, according to a presentation of the EHC at the international conference on the State of the Gulf Ecosystem here in Al Ain.

The department of environmental research at the club undertook the project with the help of international research scientists holding extensive field work, said Ronald A. Loughland, A.M. Darwish, S.S. Fadel, and A.A. Al Ali from the EHC in the joint presentation.

The club will collect, analyse and disseminate environmental data towards the sustainable use of Abu Dhabi's marine and coastal resources.

Until recently, there was no detailed ecological data relating to marine environment. "With increasing development demands, and no data to assist in planning, the coastal and marine resources were under serious threat of degradation," said the researchers.

The researchers worked on the project from 1999 to 2001 and collected ecological data throughout the coastal and marine areas of Abu Dhabi. The programme also incorporated the training of UAE postgraduate students and involved the cooperation and coordination of many government and private organisations.

Dr Mohammad Saif Al Qais from the Biology Department of the UAE University said the dugong population is in decline. At a presentation, he said a study was carried out to estimate the dugong population along the coast of the Southern Arabian Gulf bordering the UAE.

The survey was concentrated around Bu Tinha and Marawah Islands. "It found that the dugong population has decreased as evidence by fewer sightings by local people, divers and fishermen," he said. He said the study showed that dugong habitats were under pressure. Sea grass beds are also affected by increased activities by humans. (Gulf News)


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