Bahrain to step up sea patrols
Manama, April 13, 2010
Sea patrols are being stepped up as part of a new clampdown on illegal activities off the Bahrain coast, it was announced.
Authorities hope to stamp out illegal land reclamation and dredging, as well as fishing out of season.
The crackdown is being launched as part of a nationwide drive to protect the country's ecosystems, Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife director-general Dr Adel Al Zayani said at the opening of an environment conference.
It includes plans to rehabilitate areas where the environment has been damaged, as well as ban fishing in certain places.
'Our priority is to have an increase of enforcement to implement laws and regulations for illegal activities, such as dredging and reclamation,' Dr Al Zayani said.
'With regards to fishing activities, we are strengthening our capacity to control the sea and air and we have a fish season and non-catch season.
'In addition, we have a plan for rehabilitation and an increase in protected areas that we want to close to fishing and use as an area for recovery.'
He revealed much of the focus was on protecting areas such as the south and west of major reef Fasht Al Adham, as well as areas close to Hawar.
'These areas are important for fish production and nurseries for fish and shrimp and important for endangered species,' said Dr Al Zayani.
'We want to implement protected areas, such as to the north of Hawar and Mashtan. We need to increase inspectors for enforcement. From the Public Commission we already have a team with high-speed boats that tour around and communicate with the Coastguard, but we have a plan to strengthen this.'
He said Bahrain faced several challenges to biodiversity, including its limited size and growing population. These, along with international challenges such as climate change and increasing water temperatures, pose a serious risk.
'Our territorial water is facing three main problems - dredging and reclamation, long practice of fishing using nets to catch all sizes of fish and the use of shrimp fishing, which is destroying all fish and animals living on the seabed and will break the ecosystem.
Dr Al Zayani said Bahrain had ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1996 and had made efforts to protect biodiversity, including establishing Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve and a marine protection area in Arad.
Dr Al Zayani was speaking at a four-day regional workshop on the preparation of the fourth national teport under the CBD, which opened at the Elite Resort and Spa, Manama, yesterday.
Each country's report will analyse the current status and trends in biodiversity, actions taken to implement the convention at the national level and consider what further efforts are needed. Representatives from more than 14 countries are attending the conference.
CBD secretariat senior programme officer David Cooper and United Nations Environment Programme regional office for West Asia director and regional representative, Dr Habib El Habr, also spoke at the opening.-TradeArabia News Service