Awareness campaign targets schoolchildren and public about gentle marine species
Abu Dhabi: The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) launched a new dugong education and awareness campaign on Monday at EAD’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi.
The UAE waters are home to the second largest population of this species in the world.
The campaign is being held in partnership with Total and Total Abu Al Bukhoosh (ABK) to raise awareness about the current threats that affect the dugong population found in Abu Dhabi, and how to provide the dugong with a safe haven to live and breed.
Ongoing efforts include protecting the marine habitat of the dugong as well as monitoring and studying their biological and geographical distribution in UAE waters.
Given their mild gentle nature and slow-moving behaviour, the dugong can be susceptible to many threats such as fishing nets as well as strikes upon their bodies in shallow waters by the propellors of motorised watercraft.
Ahmad Baharoon, EAD’s Executive Director, Environmental Information, Science and Outreach Management, spoke on behalf of Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary-General of EAD.
“We aim to raise environmental awareness and educate the community on the importance of protecting the dugongs. Through the support of Total and Total ABK, EAD is successfully implementing its Dugong Conservation Programme, enabling the emirate of Abu Dhabi to provide a safe haven for this migrating species and making the UAE a leader in global dugong conservational efforts.”
Sultan Al Hajji, Vice-President and Chief Strategy Officer, Total E and P UAE, emphasised the importance of their continuous joint efforts in conserving the dugong population.
Commenting on the campaign, Al Mubarak said that interactive educational workshops and information campaigns will be organised in the coming months to educate schoolchildren, the fishing community and boat owners in Abu Dhabi and the Western Region, shoreline industries and the general public. Apart from a public outreach programme through EAD’s social media platforms, a number of family-oriented entertaining and educational activities in November will be held at Mushrif Mall in Abu Dhabi.
Significant effort has been made by the UAE and EAD for the conservation of the dugong population.
In 2002, EAD banned drift net fishing practices in shallow waters to prevent dugongs and turtles from becoming entangled in the nets.
On a national front, the UAE issued Federal Law No 23 and 24 in 1999 to protect dugongs from exploitation.
In support of international efforts, the UAE was one of the first Middle Eastern countries to sign the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) agreement in 2007 on the conservation and management of dugongs and their habitat.
The Dugong Memorandum of Understanding, which falls under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), is implemented through the CMS Secretariat office hosted by EAD since 2009 on behalf of the UAE Government.