The nation is a regional leader in terms of its overall marine environment health, according to the results of a global study.
The Ocean Health Index scored the UAE 77 points out of a possible 100 for 2017, ranking it first among the Gulf and Arab countries, as well as 28th on a global scale out of 220 states.
With a global average score of 70, the UAE bettered its 2016 mark by one point, and scored well with its commitment to supporting local marine industries, taking seventh place in the artisanal fishing opportunities sector and eleventh for coastal livelihoods and economies.
The independent annual study measures factors including food provision, coastal protection, tourism and biodiversity to yield data that sheds light on the bigger picture beneath the surface, with an overarching goal of protecting the global marine habitat.
While the UAE scored highly, Arabella Willing, head of conservation and community engagement at Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi, stresses the need to do more: “The oceans influence every aspect of our basic human needs. Seventy percent of the world’s oxygen is produced by marine plants and the oceans are largely responsible for our weather systems. The oceans are enormous, but they are not limitless and unfortunately we are reaching the point at which the oceans cannot cope with the pressures we are putting on them.
“Each of us has an impact on the ocean, and the ocean has an impact on us; we are all very much a part of the system,” she added. “It is predicted that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Even small tweaks can have a big impact over time.”
Abu Dhabi’s residents and authorities are doing their part. Recent initiatives in the capital have included coral cultivation, planting of more mangrove trees and awareness campaigns to safeguard the animals that make Abu Dhabi’s seas their home, including dugongs, dolphins and Hawksbill turtles.