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coral_reefs_uae___ashraf_al_cibahy

VIEWS: 34 PAGES: 38

									     The Status and
 Management of Coral
Reefs in The United Arab
        Emirates

        Ashraf Al Cibahy* and
        Thabit Al Abdesalaam
       *E-mail: aalcibahy@ead.ae
               www.ead.ae




   Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD)
                  UAE
                    UAE Country Profile




Surface area:        83,600 km2 (Abu Dhabi = 87% of total).
Coastline:           650 km (Arabian Gulf) 90 km (Gulf of Oman).
Population:          4.1 million (2005 census
Economy:             GDP (2002) = US $ 65.9 billion (Oil and natural gas = 33.9%).
Coastal Habitats:    Salt pans, sand flats, coral reefs, sea grass beds, mangroves, tidal inlets.
                                                                                                    2
UAE Coastal Characteristics
         UAE Oceanographic characteristics

                                                              36
                                                                       Arabian Gulf
                                                              34       Gulf of Oman




                                             Temperature oC
                                                              32

                                                              30

                                                              28

                                                              26

                                                              24

                                                              22

                                                              20
                                                                   Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun   Jul   Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
                                                                                        Month



Chlorophyll-a concentration in UAE waters                            Monthly seawater temperatures for the
during February 2002 (SeaWiFS                                        waters of the UAE (2002).
oceanographic satellite).



      Arabian Gulf:           Salinity 40 - 44 ppt, temp 20.9 – 34.2 oC
      Gulf of Oman:           Salinity 35 – 37 ppt, temp 23.1 – 25.0 oC
        Natural constraints to coral reef
   development (UAE-Arabian Gulf Waters)

• Extreme temperature range &
  anomalies (10-15 yrs).
• Extreme salinity range.
• Extensive areas of
  unconsolidated carbonate
  sediments.
• Scouring action by mobile
  sediments on limestone
  substrates.
• High levels of suspended
  sediment.
        Coral reef structure and development
                       in UAE




           Arabian Gulf                         Gulf of Oman
•Poorly developed patch reefs         •More favorable conditions for
dominated by Acropora and Porites     coral growth and reef development.
(10% cover).
                                      •Relatively clear water and less
•Fringing reefs around off-shore      extreme temperature and salinity
islands dominated by mono-specific    ranges.
stands.
                                      •Greater species diversity, live
•Cycles of mortality, breakdown and   coral cover and variety of growth
re-growth inhibit framework           forms.
accumulation.
      Species Diversity (Hermatypic Corals) in the
                          UAE
                                Family                                         Family
                           Acroporidae (8)
                                                                          Dendrophyllidae(2)
   Acropora valida                               Turbinaria pelata



                           Poritidae (6)                                  Pocilloporidae(1)
    Porites lobata                              Stylophora pistillata



                           Siderastreidae (4)                             Mussidae (1)
Pseudosiderastrea tayami                        Acanthastraea echinata

                                                (Photos: Charlie Veron)
                           Faviidae (12)
                                                  Total = 36 species
  Favites pentagona
                                                  (Arabian Gulf waters)
Distribution of coral reefs in the UAE




                                                       Total coral reef
                                                       surface area =
                                                       1,190 km2 (Spalding
                                                       et al., 2001)




    (Source: World Conservation Monitoring Centre, 2003)
  Value and uses of coral reefs in the UAE
• Support fisheries.
• Provide recreational services eg.
  diving and snorkeling.
• Tourism (generation of foreign
  exchange).
• Storm surge and coastal erosion
  protection (off-shore islands).
• Critical habitats essential for the
  maintenance of biodiversity.
• Scientific value (especially given
  existence in an extreme
  environment).
                       Monitoring and Assessment

    (1) Jebel Ali Marine Sanctuary
•   A coral reef monitoring program has been
    maintained in the Jebel Ali Marine
    Sanctuary since 1995 by the Dubai
    municipality.
•   Techniques used include side-scan sonar,
    video mapping, remote sensing and
    acoustic seabed mapping. Survey area =
    37.7 km 2.
•   Surveys have enabled the assessment of 2
    coral bleaching episodes during 1996 and
    1998.
•   Concise maps have been produced for
    management planning and monitoring
    purposes.
                           Monitoring and Assessment

     (2) Marawah Marine Protected Area

•A synoptic survey of the
Marawah MPA (5,561 km2)
revealed the distribution and
species composition of corals over
a large area off the coast of the
Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
•However, the survey was only
implemented in order to establish
areas of high conservation value as
part of the initial effort to
designate the MPA.
                 Monitoring and Assessment

(3) Marine biotope monitoring off Abu Dhabi

•Natural History Museum of the UK carried out
a monitoring program of marine biotopes in the
waters off Abu Dhabi.
•Surveys covered 2 catastrophic bleaching
events during 1996 and 1998 which were
associated with prolonged positive seawater
temperature anomalies.
•Surveys are no longer on-going.
                        Monitoring and Assessment

(4) Marine macro-fauna surveys

•MERC of the Environment
Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD)
conducts aerial surveys for
dugongs, turtles, dolphins and
marine macro fauna in the waters
of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
•Whilst the survey is not
specifically designed to monitor
coral reefs it does record habitat
type along transects, the categories
used include seagrass, corals and
sandy bottom.
•Additional data collected of
relevance to reef monitoring
includes the pressure on habitats
(number of vessels, fishing nets
observed, oil pollution and
turbidity).
                      Monitoring and Assessment
(5)        Miscellaneous coral reef associated research &
           monitoring programs
The Marine Environmental Research Center of EAD implements the following monitoring and
assessment activities:
Fish population dynamics:     Fisheries resource assessment, catch and effort monitoring and
                              fisheries management (includes reef associated species).

Fishing gear investigations:    Development of escape panels to prevent 'ghost fishing' and
                                reduce the retention of juvenile fish.

Phytoplankton blooms:           Phytoplankton monitoring in the coastal waters of Abu Dhabi.

Sea turtles:                    Satellite tagging, nesting surveys, rearing and release.

Oceanography:                   Coastal water circulation/drifter buoy study.

Marine Protected Areas:         MPAs management, planning, surveillance and enforcement
                                and justification of other opportunities in marine and coastal
                                areas of Abu Dhabi Emirate.

Coral reef project
                    Monitoring and Assessment
               (6)        CORAL REEF PROJECT
Title: Coral Reef Investigation in
the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and
the Eastern Cost of Qatar


Sponsor: Dolphin Energy

Client / Coordinator:
Environment Agency –Abu
Dhabi (EAD) and SCENR-
Qatar

Management: EWS-WWF

Technical Investigator:
NCRI-Florida-USA
   CORAL REEF PROJECT
 Project Goal
To develop and advance the conservation, management
and sustainable use of coral reefs and associated habitats
in the waters off the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Qatar,
through the provision of accurate biological, ecological
and socio-economic information.
                  Project Objectives

• Provide specific – tailor made monitoring and assessment
  approaches to the unique env. of AD
• Map and assess the status of coral reef habitats in the
  Emirate of Abu Dhabi and Qatar
• Investigate biodiversity of corals, and associated habitats
  / Spp.
• Establish baseline conditions for long term monitoring
• Ensure compatibility with int. initiatives of coral
  monitoring
• Evaluate alternative approaches to rehabilitation
• Develop capacity building of UAE/Qatari research
  personnel for long term monitoring
• Propose a conservation and management strategy for
  implementation by state authorities.
                    Project Outputs

• Study of the distribution, status and threats to coral reefs
  within Abu Dhabi/Qatar
• Atlas and coral reef identification guide
• Coral reef conservation and management plan
• Solid scientific base for further development by
  EAD/SCENR
• Opportunities for media awareness campaigns
• Capacity building
     CORAL REEF PROJECT: Training
Field:
                              Classroom:
• Ground truthing             • Remote sensing
• Coral reef identification   • Coral reef
                                evolution and
                                life forms




 Field:
 • Sediment sampling
 • % Cover
      CORAL REEF PROJECT



Results of Resource Assessment for
Coral Reefs at the Offshore Islands of
             Abu Dhabi
                    Arzanah Island
 51 sites evaluated, of which 11 showed
  coral growth.
 The densest coral growth was found on
  the western side of the islands. The
  coral community was in the very early
  phases of regeneration.
 Coral cover was between 1 and 5%.
 Coral species encountered were:
  Platygyra daedalea, Platygyra lamellina
  Favia pallida, Porites harrisoni
  Porites lutea, Cyphastrea microphthalma
  ? Psammocora. sp., Acropora clathrata
  (40 cm diameter)
 Corals are healthy and no diseases were
  observed. The relatively uniform size
  distribution of corals suggests that all
  originated from sexually produced
  gametes of an upstream source
                       Das Island
 A total of 27 sites were evaluated, of
  which 5 showed coral growth.
 The coral community was in the very early
  phases of regeneration.
 Coral cover was around 1%.

 Coral species encountered were:
  Platygyra lamellina , Favia pallida
  Porites harrisoni

 The few observed corals appeared to be
  of good health and no diseases were
  observed.

 The relatively uniform size distribution of
  corals suggests that all originated from
  sexually produced gametes of an
  upstream source.
                      Diyenat Island
 31 sites were evaluated, of which 17
  showed coral growth.
 The coral community was in early phases
  of regeneration.
 Coral cover was around 1%.

 Coral species encountered were:
  Platygyra lamellina, Favia pallida
  Porites harrisoni, Porites lutea

 The observed corals are healthy and no
  diseases were observed.
 The relatively uniform size distribution of
  corals suggests that all originated from
  sexually produced gametes of an upstream
  source
                      Qrnen Island
 31 sites were evaluated, of which 17 showed
  coral growth.
 The coral community was in the very early
  phases of regeneration.
 Coral cover was between 1 and 5%.
 Coral species encountered were:
  Platygyra lamellina, Favia pallida
  Cyphastrea microphthalma, Turbinaria
  reniformis, Pseudosiderastrea
  tayamai, Plesiastrea versipora, Porites
  harrisoni, Porites lutea

 The observed corals are healthy - no diseases
  were observed.
 The relatively uniform size distribution of
  corals suggests that all originated from
  sexually produced gametes of an upstream
  source
                    Zarkawh Island
 2 sites were evaluated, of which 11 showed
  coral growth.
 The densest coral growth was found on the
  north-western side of the islands.
 The coral community was in the very early
  phases of regeneration.
 Coral cover was between 1 and a maximum of
  5%.
 Coral species encountered were:
  Platygyra daedalea, Platygyra lamellina
  Favia pallida, Porites harrisoni
  Porites lutea, Cyphastrea microphthalma
  Acropora clathrata (small recruit)
 Corals were all healthy - no diseases were
  observed.
 The relatively uniform size distribution of
  corals suggests that all originated from
  sexually produced gametes of an upstream
  source
                     Al Hil Island
 6 sites were evaluated, all of which were
  situated within a dense coral biostrome
  and of which 3 showed coral growth.
 The coral community showed all the
  signs of serious mortality suffered during
  the previous thermal stress events
 Coral cover was between 1 and 5% and
  this was the sight with the strongest
  Acropora recruitment of all sites.
 Coral species encountered were:
  Platygyra daedalea, Platygyra lamellina
  Favia pallida, Porites harrisoni
  Porites lutea, Cyphastrea microphthalma
  Acropora clathrata, Acropora arabensis
 Corals were all of good health and no
  diseases were observed
                Significance of findings

Results show clear signs of the coral system’s resilience in the face of
 what was likely the strongest disturbance of the century
Despite three marked thermal anomalies and their associated coral mass
 mortality, the reefs are not dead and show very active signs of
 regeneration.
So far, no extinctions have yet been identified, however, overall coral
 biodiversity still remains depressed and coral coverage of available
 substratum remains at record low levels.
The observed corals bear clear evidence of a fertile upstream seeding
 population and active spread of sexual propagules throughout the
 region.
There is no evidence for asexual increase in coral populations
 yet, largely because the colonies are still too small
The active recruitment and reproduction indicates that remaining corals
 are good health. Thus, there is hope for a full recovery of the coral
 systems.
                                 Project Progress
Year 1                                 Percent completed
                                       10%   20%   30%     40%   50%   60%   70%   80%   90%   100%

Large-scale map of entire area
Image classification
Field trips
Assess potential for recovery
Publish and circulate results
Production of draft training manuals
Choose trainees

Year 2                                 Percent completed
Fine-scale map of selected areas
Groundtruthing of image
Field trips
Assess potential for recovery
Publish and circulate results
Finalization of training manuals
Continuation of training
      Institutional Framework for Coral Reef
                Conservation in UAE
     Federal            Local (Emirate)            Non-              International
   Government            Government            Governmental
Ministry of           Environment Agency       Oil Companies eg. Gulf Co-operative
Environment and       – Abu Dhabi              ADNOC, ADCO, Council (GCC)
Water                                          Dolphin, etc
Federal Environment                            UAE University      Regional
Agency                                                             Organization for
                                                                   the Protection of
National Coastguard   Municipalities eg. the   Emirates Wildlife   the Marine
and Marine Police     Marine Environment       Society (EWS)       Environment
                      and Sanctuaries Unit                         (ROPME)
                      of Dubai Municipality    Emirates Diving     United Nations
                                               Association         (IOC/UNEP/UNDP
                                                                   /UNESCO)
 Conservation and Management Initiatives
            for Coral Reef Conservation in UAE
Federal Laws         eg. no. 23, 1999 on the Exploitation, Protection and Development
                     of Living Aquatic Resources in the UAE.
                     Federal Law no. 24 for the Protection and Development of the
                     Environment.

Decrees              eg. Decree no. 1 of June 1995 demarcating coral reef areas on the
                     East Coast for protection.

International Conventions:      CITES, CBD etc.

Management & Action Plans

Regional: Regional Action Plan for the Conservation of Coral Reefs in the Arabian
          Seas Region (ROPME Sea Area)
          Kuwait Action Plan
National: eg. Environmental Strategy and Action Plans for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
          (EAD).
          Marawah Marine Protected Area Management Plan.
Conservation and Management Initiatives:
                 MPAs
               Threats & Management Issues
Bleaching: Coral mortality (up to
98%) following bleaching events
associated with increases in the
frequency and prolongation of
positive seawater temperature
anomalies. Note: diversity in the
Jebel Ali Wildlife Sanctuary reduced
from 34 to 27 species following the
1996 bleaching event.

Crown of Thorns: periodically
abundant on East Coast reefs where
they have caused extensive damage.


Disease: Yellow-band, Black-band
and white band diseases present and
prevalence maybe increased by
anthropogenic stressors.
Threats & Management Issues
Threats & Management Issues
Threats & Management Issues




                  Effects of fishing eg. by-catch
                              Conclusions

1.   The coral reefs of the UAE have cultural, economic and scientific value.

2.   Threats are primarily derived from positive seawater temperature anomalies,
     hyper-saline and thermal cooling water discharges, dredging and landfill,
     urban refuse and the effects of fishing.

3.   Coral reef monitoring activities in the UAE started in 1995. Monitoring has
     relied on international expertise highlighting the need for national capacity
     building.

4.   There are a variety of conservation and management initiatives being
     implemented by NGO’s as well as local/federal government institutions and
     international organizations. (Legislation, strategic action plans, MPAs,
     education and awareness campaigns etc.)
Acknowledgement:
Bernhard Riegl and Samuel Purkis
(NCRI, Florida)
Thabit Zahran, Suad Al Harthi,
Mohamed Jassim, Hamad Al Mazroei,
(EAD, UAE)
Nasser AL Shaiba (EHS,Dubai Ports)
EWS-WWF
Dolphin Energy

								
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