KUWAIT: UK’s CEFAS and EPA scientists collaborating on projects to assess Kuwait’s marine environment.

KUWAIT: UK Government’s Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and Kuwait’s Environment Public Authority (EPA) reached an important milestone in their relationship with the joint publication of a review paper in an international marine science journal. The published work describes the status of biodiversity in the marine environment surrounding Kuwait. It highlights the importance of preserving healthy and productive seas, which are vital for both food and water security along with providing unique coastal habitats, which will help reduce the impacts of climate change.

Cefas and EPA have been working together to address the challenges of marine environmental management by strengthening regulation, developing the evidence to inform decision making, and building capacity for long-term sustainable environmental management. This program of work is supporting Kuwait to sustainably use its significant marine resources and realize the potential of its marine-based economies.

Economic resource
Dr Brett Lyons, Scientific lead for the Cefas team in the Gulf said: “The coastline and waters surrounding Kuwait are vitally important in terms of an economic resource, through industries such as fishing and those associated with tourism and other recreational activities. Having clean and healthy seas are essential for improving the quality of life of residents who enjoy using the beach or spend time out at sea on a regular basis. The seas around Kuwait are also home to a unique mix of ecosystems, plants and animals, such as coral reefs, turtles and endangered species of shark that are both regional and globally important.”

He added: “But currently the Gulf is facing a dual climate and biodiversity crisis, with sea water temperatures expected to rise three times faster than the global average. The Gulf already experiences environmental extremes and is one of the world’s warmest seas. Globally around a million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction.

The data and assessments generated during this work program will contribute to Kuwait’s reporting requirements for United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Furthermore, the publication of our work in an international marine science journal helps to demonstrate that Kuwait is developing a marine monitoring program that meets International best practice and is producing data that will contribute to the regional understanding of the Gulf’s marine environment.”

Very precious
Dr Abdullah Al-Zaiden, Deputy Director of EPA said: “Our marine environment is very precious and is instrumental to our economy, culture and future prosperity. Kuwait now faces a multitude of environmental challenges, which necessitates better marine monitoring and management. We have been working with Cefas to develop management plans to help protect our marine environment. In parallel we have been developing a program of rehabilitation projects, including mangrove plantations to help restore and improve coastal environments.

These will ultimately help to support biodiversity, acting as a nursery ground for important commercial species, and help protect the coast from sea level rise linked to climate change. To support this, we recently met with representatives from the diplomatic community, the United Nations Development Programme and World Bank to discuss how we can coordinate efforts internationally to better protect our marine environment.”

Michael Davenport, British Ambassador to Kuwait said: “Protecting our marine environment is a global challenge which requires co-ordinated action between international agencies. Therefore, I am delighted to see EPA and UK’s leading Government marine science agency, Cefas, continuing to work together to address this important issue here in Kuwait. Healthy coastal areas will better support important ecosystems that are essential breeding grounds for many species of fish and shellfish.

It is vital we support and cherish our coastal habitats, as maintaining and rehabilitating them will be an important tool in the fight against the impacts of climate change. We recently hosted a virtual roundtable to hear about the work done by EPA to rehabilitate the marine environment.” This event was attended by an international coalition, including representatives from the French and Italian Embassies, UNDP and World Bank. Such nature-based solutions will be a priority area for discussion when the UK hosts the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties, or COP26, in Glasgow in 2021.