Research must to save corals

THERE is need for more research and data on the coral reefs and their health is vital, experts stressed.

By Zs

Published: Tue 5 Aug 2008, 2:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 5:00 PM

"We still do not sufficiently understand how these reef ecosystems work, and that will only come with substantial research into marine systems and processes. Conservative environmental decisions should be used until such time as sufficient data becomes available," said John Burt, Zayed University lecturer on Natural Science and Public Health.

An intensive year-long research project, 'Management Plan for Marine Protected Areas', is being conducted on the East Coast coral reefs, led by a Portuguese marine biologist, and local experts, including the Emirates Diving Association. The research report is expected to be ready by December-end.

The 'Management Plan for Marine Protected Areas' would allow for better management of the precious resources and provide more conclusive data on the impact of climate change.

Steps under way

Several steps are under way to protect the precious East Coast reefs, including the expansion of marine reserves.

"Now there are four or five protected marine reserves off the East Coast," Ibrahim Al Zu'ubi said. "We've sunk 30 reef balls which are generating coral reefs and attracting marine life."

Al Zu'ubi said about 10 old dhows were also to be sunk to attract fish and provide a scuba diving tourist attraction. One dhow had already been sunk as a pilot project and was proving successful, he added.

Additionally, awareness has been raised among fishermen and no fishing occurred in the marine reserves.

Burt said the resilience of the coral reefs in this area had led to a recovery of the mass bleaching a decade ago.

"Current research indicates that there has been strong recovery of reefs in western Dubai, but that recovery has not been as substantial in Abu Dhabi," he said.

"Increased CO2 driving global warming is the primary threat to reefs. Making decisions to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions can help. It has to start with individuals making such decisions at the grassroots level, and then putting upward pressure on their respective governments. At a local level, the regulatory authorities have been working with various institutions to improve marine systems. More stringent regulations and transparency in the impact assessment processes may go a long way towards conserving coral reefs in this area." —

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