'Year of Zayed' cleanup drive rids sea of a tonne of waste

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Year of Zayed cleanup drive rids sea of a tonne of waste
The idea is to ensure a safe, clean and healthy environment and to promote ecological awareness.

Abu Dhabi - At least 50 professional divers who volunteered from several governmental and private entities - in addition to a number of licensed divers from around the UAE - participated in collecting the marine debris and litter, over four hours.

by

Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Sat 27 Jan 2018, 8:10 PM

Last updated: Sat 27 Jan 2018, 10:20 PM

A whopping 957 kilogrammes of wastes, including plastic containers, old fishing nets, glass bottles, electrical items, metal parts and wooden items, were removed from the waters off Mina Zayed near Fisherman's Wharf, during a cleanup campaign. 
At least 50 professional divers who volunteered from several governmental and private entities - in addition to a number of licensed divers from around the UAE - participated in collecting the marine debris and litter, over four hours. The material collected would have otherwise ended up in the sea, harming the UAE's fragile biodiversity and affecting fishermen and swimmers' livelihoods.
The campaign was organised by the Environmental Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) in coordination with the Emirates Diving Association (EDA), to raise awareness among the public about marine debris and their impact on marine life.
One of a series of clean-up campaigns being organised by EAD under the theme 'Together We Make The Difference' in 2018, to mark the Year of Zayed, the series focuses on cleaning beaches, diving sites, deserts and other habitats across Abu Dhabi.
The idea is to ensure a safe, clean and healthy environment and to promote ecological awareness.
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD secretary general said: "This initiative is one of the many we are launching this year, to commemorate the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the UAE, emphasising the principles he advocated to protect the environment and natural heritage that is an important part of the UAE and the lives of its citizens and residents ".
"This campaign will not be the last but there are other campaigns to be organised throughout the year to protect our diverse ecosystem - in the sea, the air, and the land - safe havens to live and thrive," she added. 
Dr Sheikha Al Dhaheri, executive director of EDA's Biodiversity sector, said wastes are very harmful to the environment, in both land and sea. "Most of the wastes collected from the sea, for example, glass bottles, metallics and plastics are non-degradable. When they get into the sea and the marine food chain, mammals and fish get tangled in many of these wastes. They suffocate and drown, and in the long term these species get endangered," Al Dhaheri told Khaleej Times, during the underwater cleanup campaign. 
"The message we are trying to pass is that marine debris is unsightly, but more importantly, it poses a potential threat to the health of humans and marine flora and fauna. Toxic materials can inhibit normal growth and reproduction, or even kill marine animals" said Dr Al Dhaheri. 
Ahmed Al Musa, a diving Instructor from the Seven Emirates Diving Team, said: "We always participate in such environmental campaigns because we want to save it from all sorts of pollution.
"As divers, we do this voluntarily across the emirates whenever there is a call because we want to see our waters clean. Most of the time, we find plastic containers, fishing nets, old tyres and other debris under the water and such wastes are harmful to marine life."
He added: "Whenever I dive into the water, I don't want to come across a dead fish or a dead turtle or any other marine lives." 
Nassir Al Saba, a 24-year-old Emirati volunteer diver, said he participated in this underwater cleanup campaign because he wants to see his country clean. "We need to protect our environment. This is everyone's responsibility," said Al Saba.
"If we don't take care of our environment, who will do it for us?"
ismail@khaleejtimes.com
 



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