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Bu Tinah shoal recognised as one of ten most important sites for marine turtles in Indian Ocean region

posted on 12/07/2016: 2350 views

ABU DHABI, 12th June, 2016 (WAM) -- The Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi, EAD, has recently been advised by the Indian Ocean and South East Asia, IOSEA, MoU Secretariat, of the inclusion of Bu Tinah shoal in the IOSEA Marine Turtle Site Network as an important site for marine turtles. The Secretariat is part of the United Nations Environment Programme's Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific based in Bangkok, Thailand.

Of the seven species of marine turtles in the world, two can be found in Abu Dhabi's waters: the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle, Eretmochelys imbricata, and the endangered Green turtle, Chelonia mydas. In Abu Dhabi, turtles nest on at least 17 offshore islands from mid-March to mid-June and EAD's aerial and field survey findings indicate that about 5,750 sea turtles inhabit Abu Dhabi's waters during the winter season and 6,900 during the summer season.

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, Chairman of EAD, said in his congratulatory note, "I am extremely delighted to learn that Bu Tinah shoal and its biodiversity is being recognised globally. It is a matter of pride for the country and its rich culture of preserving our natural resources. I congratulate the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi and the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment for their endeavours in successfully showcasing Bu Tinah shoal in a global forum."

Congratulating EAD, Dr. Douglas Hykle, coordinator of the IOSEA Secretariat, said, "Bu Tinah's official certification will hopefully bring about an even greater appreciation among the authorities and the general public of the area's richness in biodiversity. It should also help to stimulate even closer ties and cooperation with other network sites that have similar conservation challenges and needs."

Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, the Secretary General of EAD, said, "The inclusion of Bu Tinah shoal in the IOSEA Marine Turtle Site Network recognises its importance as a regional foraging area and nesting ground for species of global importance. It also acknowledges the EAD's long-lasting conservation efforts at the site. Bu Tinah is one of only 10 sites in nine countries across the Indian Ocean to have received this distinction. I am delighted and congratulate all of our stakeholders and partners who made this a reality."

Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD and the technical focal point of the UAE for the IOSEA Marine Turtle MoU, said, "The inclusion of Bu Tinah under the Network of important Marine Turtle sites is a matter of great honour for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The network serves as a mechanism for the management authorities of sites to cooperate with each other and encourages regional collaboration to research and management."

Ayesha Y. Al Blooshi, Director - Marine Biodiversity Division, explained, "Bu Tinah is one of the 10 sites selected by the IOSEA secretariat based upon 18 evaluation criteria which were divided into four categories including ecological/biological, governance, socio-economic and regional and global representativeness. All of the sites were deemed to be of particular importance for marine turtles and other biodiversity after a rigorous selection process that carefully evaluated their many ecological attributes."

The Bu Tinah shoal, which has been managed and monitored by EAD since 2000, is a core area within the established Marawah Marine Biosphere Reserve, the first and largest UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) marine site in the region. At a distance of almost 150km west of Abu Dhabi city, the island can easily be accessed from the coastal towns of Al Mirfa and Jebel Dhana.

The Bu Tinah shoal and its surrounding waters are strictly protected from human activities such as fishing. In spite of the harsh temperatures and high salinity, its habitats and species, including coral, seagrass, mangroves, Green and Hawksbill turtles, dolphins and many species of birds, continue to thrive, making the island an important location and a living laboratory for climate change studies. The shoal is also home to one of the most charismatic but endangered marine mammals, the dugong. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –


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