Oman to have 13 protected marine areas

Muscat - 

Oman is planning to declare 13 protected marine areas, H E Hamad bin Said al Oufi, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) said at the fifth Our Ocean Conference in Bali, Indonesia.

The two-day conference that ended on Tuesday discussed several issues related to oceans, marine resources, fisheries, biological diversity, marine pollution, maritime security and the blue economy.

The conference sought to encourage states to take specific actions to preserve the health of oceans and involve the local community, the private sector and non-governmental bodies to conserve the marine environment.

H E Oufi said, “Oman is making efforts in the conservation and optimal exploitation of the sea in general and fisheries and the marine environment in particular through policies and programmes such as coral reef conservation and the development of artificial reefs.”

As part of this initiative, Oman is seeking to sustain marine habitats, regulate the fisheries sector and declare 13 protected marine areas to conserve biodiversity. “We are also implementing the coastal zone and marine environment management plan, and focusing on mangrove plantation.”

A United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP’s) programme - Convention on Biological Diversity - mandates that the participating countries need to improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity as well as reach specific targets of protected areas.

The convention has adopted a Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, which includes the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, for the 2011-20 period. Under Aichi’s Target 11, all nations should designate at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and ten per cent of coastal and marine areas as protected ones by 2020.

According to the Digital Observatory for Protected Areas (DOPA), a joint research centre under the European Commission, Oman misses the target of protected land and marine areas by a wide margin.

According to DOPA, Oman has a total land area of 310,433.8sq km, out of which protected land area is 7,980.7sq km, providing terrestrial coverage of 2.57 per cent. The country has a total marine area of 559,125.2sq km, out of which 669.3sq km comes under the status of protected marine area, resulting in a marine coverage of 0.12 per cent.

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