Monday, October 20, 2014

Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi launches Dugong Education and Awareness Campaign

Awareness campaign sponsored by Total and Total Abu Al Bukhoosh (ABK)-

Abu Dhabi, October 20, 2014: The Environment Agency –Abu Dhabi (EAD), in partnership with Total and Total Abu Al Bukhoosh (ABK), launched the dugong education and awareness campaign today at Al Mamoura Auditorium, at EAD’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi. The campaigns aims to raise awareness on the current threats that affect the dugong population found in Abu Dhabi, and how to provide the dugongs with a safe haven to live and breed.

During the kick-off of the campaign, Ahmed Baharoon, EAD’s Executive Director, Environmental Information, Science & Outreach Management spoke on behalf of H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD, and Mr. Sultan Al Hajji, Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, Total E&P UAE, emphasised the importance of their continuous joint efforts in conserving the dugong population, protecting its habitat, and monitoring and studying their biological and geographical distribution in the UAE’s waters.

Commenting on the launch of the campaign, H.E. Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD, said: "Through this campaign, we aim to raise environmental awareness and educate the community on the importance of protecting the dugongs, as the UAE waters are home to the second-largest population of this species in the world. Through the support of Total and Total ABK, EAD is successfully implementing its Dugong Conservation Programme, enabling the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to provide a safe haven for this migrating species and making the UAE for a leader in global dugong conservational efforts."

Throughout the coming months, EAD, Total, and Total ABK, will organise interactive educational workshops and information campaigns to educate middle-school and high-school students, the fishing community and boat owners in Abu Dhabi and the Western Region, shoreline industries and the general public. The campaign will also include a public outreach programme through EAD’s social media platforms, along with a number of family-oriented entertaining and educational activities in November 2014, to be held at Mushrif Mall in Abu Dhabi.

Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity at EAD, commented: “Since 1999, EAD, Total, and Total ABK, have collaborated in conducting detailed studies on the local dugong population. These studies have provided our teams with the data that helps us better understand the behaviour and threats against the dugong population. Dugongs are an endangered species and could be threatened with extinction unless we conserve their habitat and prevent human interference.”

“One of the most important elements of our conservation efforts is to inform and educate the public about marine life found in Abu Dhabi. Through this campaign, we work together in order to protect the dugong population,” Dr. Al Dhaheri added.

Mr. Hatem Nuseibeh, President Total E&P UAE and Group Representative in the UAE, commented, “Total UAE and Total Abu Al Bukhoosh are proud to be an ardent supporter in EAD’s dugong conservation program by exclusively sponsoring since its launch in 1999. Thanks to EAD’s efforts, today Abu Dhabi is a leader of international repute hosting the Dugong Secretariat of Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) under United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Since 1939, Total has established a solid partnership with the authorities and people of the UAE by sharing technology and innovation, environment protection, capacity building of Emiratis and aligning with the vision of the wise leadership of the UAE. We have an unwavering commitment for the benefit of the UAE.”

Mr. Sultan Al Hajji, Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer, Total E&P UAE, said, “Both Total and Total ABK as responsible energy companies, contribute to the welfare of the host country in all aspects including environment conservation. Under the wise leadership of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the President of the United Arab Emirates and the guidance of H.H. General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Total UAE and Total Abu Al Bukhoosh demonstrate their solidarity by partnering with EAD in the noble cause of preserving the delicate biodiversity of the Emirates. This is one of the ways of expressing our sincere gratitude and appreciation for the UAE.”

Significant effort has been made by the UAE and EAD in the conservation of the dugong population. In 2002, EAD banned drift net fishing practices in shallow waters to prevent dugongs and turtles from becoming entangled in the nets. On a national front, the UAE issued Federal Law No. 23 and 24 in 1999 to protect dugongs from exploitation. In support of international efforts, the UAE was one of the first Middle Eastern countries to sign the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) agreement in 2007 on the conservation and management of dugongs and their habitat. The Dugong Memorandum of Understanding, which falls under International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), is implemented through the CMS Secretariat office hosted by EAD since 2009 on behalf of the UAE’s Government.

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