Ministry Of Climate Change And Environment Kicks Off Bio-digital Survey Of Marine Habitats In UAE

Ministry of Climate Change and Environment kicks off bio-digital survey of Marine Habitats in UAE

DUBAI, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News / WAM - 08th Jun, 2021) As part of its celebration of World Oceans Day under the theme ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) today announced the launch of a bio-digital survey of marine habitats in the UAE.

For the first time in the region, the 17-week pilot study will integrate aerial and underwater data, collected using drones and an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV) – a mobile robot designed for aquatic work environments, to generate multidimensional digital maps of marine habitats and their biodiversity, and evaluate the impacts of climate change on them. The results will be benchmarked against traditional surveys conducted by divers using manual equipment.

Sultan Alwan, Acting Undersecretary at MOCCAE, said: "MOCCAE is keen to leverage innovative technologies in its sustainability drive. The study aligns with the Ministry’s commitment to assessing the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems with the aim of informing its efforts to protect them and safeguard aquatic life. It will also advance research in this area through verifying the success and accuracy of new technologies in surveying underwater habitats. We will make the results available to entities concerned with marine work and academic institutions in the UAE. We hope to motivate experts, researchers, and students to embark on similar exercises based on developing and blending new technologies and putting them to the test to ensure their effectiveness.


The pilot phase will take place in the coastal area of Umm Al Qaiwain, given its widely diverse terrain and marine habitats, such as coral reefs, seagrass meadows, and natural creeks.

The climate change-induced rise in seawater temperature is a key driver of marine ecosystem degradation. Coral bleaching is a prime example, as it causes coral reefs to lose their role as vital habitats for marine life.

According to surveys of the Arabian Gulf waters, efforts to enhance the heat resilience of coral reefs through genetic engineering have managed to increase the recovery capability of certain coral species by over 70 percent.

Preserving and restoring the marine environment and protecting its inhabitants has long been a priority for MOCCAE. Given the importance of coral reefs as key components of the underwater world, the Ministry, in partnership with the concerned stakeholders, developed a legislative framework for coral conservation, advanced R&D in coral cultivation, and rolled out multiple relevant initiatives.

These include the drive to rehabilitate coastal areas nationwide through planting coral reefs and deploying artificial reefs, the experimental cultivation of 24 heat- and climate-resilient coral species, mapping the geographical distribution of coral reef sites along the UAE’s coastline, and building the world’s largest coral nursery, spanning 300,000 square metres, that will be home to 1.5 million corals.