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Abu Dhabi marine research vessel sets sail for climate change mission

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ABU DHABI – With the launch of ‘Jaywun’, the Middle East’s most advanced oceanographic research vessel equipped with state-of-the-art technology to help combat climate change, the Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) is on a mission to further strengthen the UAE’s global presence Study where you are on the map and step up climate action.

Through a range of projects, initiatives and policies, Abu Dhabi is poised to achieve sustainable economic development while protecting the emirate’s rich environment and biodiversity.

Environmental protection tops national agenda

“Since the establishment of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan put the protection of the environment and biodiversity at the top of the national agenda. The environment has always been at the heart of our policies and development process,” said EAD Land and Ahmed Al Hashemi, executive director of the Marine Biodiversity Sector, told The Jordan Times at a recent meeting.

“We have always been keen to balance economic growth and development with maintaining sustainability. Now we are deploying the latest technologies, including a recently launched state-of-the-art research vessel, to help us make more informed decisions to ensure environmental protected, taking into account continued economic growth,” he added.

advanced research vessel

Al Hashemi said Abu Dhabi recently launched the most advanced marine research vessel in the Middle East to help protect the emirate’s marine life amidst the various impacts of climate change.

The name of the vessel “Jaywun” symbolizes a type of pearl of the highest quality and value. He said the ship will help preserve the emirate’s rich, unique and diverse marine environment and biodiversity.

The ship can accommodate approximately 30 people and is equipped with the latest research equipment, including six laboratories for studying samples.

It also includes a remote-controlled submarine that will operate within UAE territorial waters in the Arabian Gulf and Sea of ​​Oman and will allow the agency to complete research on the marine environment and fish populations in waters above 10 meters deep.

The agency will also use the Jaywun to monitor and protect fish stocks and marine biodiversity, and help ignite young Emirati researchers’ passion for Arabian Gulf oceanography and fisheries research.

Freire Shipbuilding in Vigo, Spain developed the vessel under the supervision of Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding, with support from the EAD team.

“In Abu Dhabi, the sea is very important to us…the location of the sea is unique, although the Arabian Gulf is the hottest sea in the world, we have a great variety of species, including corals, despite the high salinity and heat water,” Al Hashemi said.

Much of the Arabian Gulf remains undeveloped. He noted that the research vessel will explore the ocean and marine life to come up with solutions to improve the ecosystem, adding that the vessel is a major initiative to combat and adapt to climate change.

“This research vessel will help increase our national capacity as we work with top research centers and researchers around the world. We have signed a number of MoUs with a number of universities to ensure students are engaged and benefit from the ’ he added.

Ban unsustainable fishing practices

To protect the environment and marine life, the UAE has banned some unsustainable fishing practices that have an impact on marine species, especially fish stocks.

“One of the challenges we face is that there are not enough fish stocks. That’s why we brought this ship. We’ve done research in the past, building on what we did in 1978. We banned some practices, and then we increased the stock. We Noticed that protected areas have decreased and fish stocks in the sea have dwindled dramatically. Fishermen always complain because they used to go farther and stay longer to catch fish, but this is food security we’re talking about ,” Al Hashemi added.

“Then we took several firm steps, including banning the unsustainable fishing practices of using nets and other traps to catch a species of fish locally known as Gargoor,” he noted, adding that after the ban was implemented, data showed fish The number of classes rebounded.

Abu Dhabi’s coastal and marine areas, located on the southern border of the Arabian Gulf, are considered a biodiversity “hotspot” with a variety of habitats supporting a wide range of marine species including large fish. Based on its research and surveys, the agency has been working to improve the state of deteriorating fish stocks, which have been depleted by as much as 85 percent, he said.

Implementing the EAD’s guidance in this regard will help protect fish stocks, and data shows that Abu Dhabi is on track to meet its sustainable fisheries goals by 2030. The Sustainable Fisheries Index has also improved for three consecutive years, rising from 8.9 percent to 62.3 percent by the end of 2021, down from 62.3 percent in 2018. The agency will continue to work to ensure the fishery recovers while achieving sustainable fishing levels.

The agency’s efforts to establish and manage nature reserves through the Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network, which includes six marine protected areas accounting for 14% of the emirate’s marine environment.

Drones plant mangrove seeds

The UAE is also committed to adopting and enhancing nature-based solutions.

One project that falls under this strategy is the use of drones to plant mangrove seeds, an initiative that Al Hashemi said the emirate will intensify starting this year.

“These trees have been found to play an important role in carbon sinks. We have planted more than 15 million mangroves in the past 10 years and this year we plan to expand and intensify the implementation of the project,” he added.

The use of drones to plant mangrove seeds supports the Abu Dhabi Mangrove Programme, announced in February 2021 during the landmark visit to the UAE by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, where he met with members of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Administrative Office, Jubail Mangrove Park.

Implemented by EAD with local, regional and international partners, the initiative supports Abu Dhabi’s ambitious plan to make the emirate a global hub for research and innovation in mangrove conservation, as tree carbon sequestration is a key to combating climate change strategy.

The initiative supports the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment’s target, announced during COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, which unveiled a national plan to plant 100 million mangroves by 2030.

EAD is the first organization to exploit and plant mangroves on a large scale, using the ecological principles of drone augmentation. One million seeds were planted following a successful initial phase implemented by EAD in partnership with global energy company ENGIE and drone engineering solutions company Distant Imagery.

This initial phase is focused on planting mangroves by drone in 2020, with a success rate of 48%. EAD subsequently scaled up the project, planting 1 million mangroves by drone at various sites around Al Mirfa in the Al Dhafra region.

There are several advantages to using drones to plant mangroves, as the method has a low environmental footprint as it does not require heavy labor and transport of saplings. It is also cost-effective as it reduces the overall price of mangrove plantations, eliminates the need for mangrove nurseries and associated costs, and facilitates access to remote and difficult areas. The project is also running a trial to incorporate machine learning into future monitoring phases.

“This project helps protect the environment, save manpower and resources, and the success rate of the project is on the rise,” he added

Early adoption of ESG policies

Abu Dhabi was one of the first countries in the world to adopt Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) policies.

In 2021, the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) launched a new policy aimed at maximizing the ESG benefits of its incentives and public-private partnership (PPP) schemes for investors and the people of Abu Dhabi.

ADIO’s policy outlines how ESG criteria and considerations will be integrated into investment and commercial decision-making for projects and businesses in Abu Dhabi that are supported by ADIO’s various programs to facilitate the establishment and growth of sustainable investing in the emirate.

The policy allows ADIO to further encourage companies that embed sustainability principles in their management and operations, and to initiate important discussions with companies that have not yet developed ESG criteria. ADIO’s ESG policy will apply to partners under its innovation program and PPP transactions. The policy also aims to create an open dialogue and new avenues for businesses and entities in Abu Dhabi to engage on ESG topics.

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