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Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi implements executive regulation to improve marine water quality

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has begun implementing an executive regulation regarding marine water quality in Abu Dhabi.

The regulation was recently approved by the Agency’s Board of Directors to combat the deterioration of ambient marine water and sediment quality by applying measures to environmental impact assessment studies and environmental licencing applications. It strengthens the enforcement measures taken by the agency, including environmental assessment, licencing and inspection procedures for development projects and industrial establishments to ensure compliance.

Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, the EAD’s Secretary-General, said, “The executive regulation regarding the marine water quality was developed to reinforce the regulatory and supervisory framework that the EAD seeks to implement in coordination with all stakeholders in the emirate. With the application of environmental standards for ambient marine water and sediment in protected areas, as well as in public areas outside designated marine protected areas, these standards are now considered the first of their kind in the region.”

“The regulation also includes standards for liquid discharges from land-based activities into the marine environment – another first for Abu Dhabi. These standards have been developed based on international best practices for the protection of the marine ecosystem and public health. In addition, the regulation includes measures to overcome the deterioration of the marine water quality and to provide all available alternatives for sustainable management of liquid discharges before being disposed of to the marine environment,” Dr. Al Dhaheri stated.

She added, “The issuance of the regulation is among other efforts made by the EAD, in cooperation with strategic partners in the emirate. These efforts include protecting the marine environment in designated areas, contributing to preserving marine biodiversity and enhancing fish stocks to help achieve food security, which is also in line with the UAE’s strategy plans. It also contributes to enhancing the role of the fishing communities and ensuring the sustainability of fishing activities, which are part of the Emirate’s heritage. By improving marine water quality, the agency looks forward to enhancing recreational and tourist activities, marine sports and other uses, which in turn will raise the level of satisfaction of both residents and tourists through the services provided by the government.”

The implementation plans include actions and initiatives that will be implemented over the next two years. The Agency has also prepared a plan to assess the impact of the regulation.

Furthermore, the agency has developed plans for communication and raising awareness, regarding the requirements for the regulation’s implementation, targeting multiple local community groups.

Sheikha Al Hosani, Executive Director of the EAD’s Environment Quality Sector, said, “For more than 15 years the agency has implemented a comprehensive and integrated programme to monitor water quality and marine sediments. In addition, the EAD operates an automated network of buoys that act as online monitoring and an early-warning system for red tides and algal growth cases. The Agency also carries out studies and research in various fields related to marine water quality. The results of the research and studies are published in local, regional and international conferences and forums. Nearly 20 scientific papers have been published in the best international scientific journals.”

The emirate has witnessed unprecedented growth during the past decades, and this development boom has been accompanied by increased growth in the industrial and commercial sectors. The regulation is part of the efforts made by the EAD to respond to the challenges while improving environmental performance indicators in Abu Dhabi.

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