Dolphins are starting to raise interest among some major local stakeholders. On June 10th, the Environment Health and Safety, the regulatory arm of Trakhees-Ports, Customs & Free Zone Corporation (PCFC), invited the UAE Dolphin Project and Dolphin Bay, Atlantis to talk about dolphins in a joint workshop.
The workshop was presented by Ada Natoli and Ana Salbany and saw the participation of members of the Coast Guard, DP World and EHS and was presided by Dr. Hamad Al Falasi, manager of EHS.
It was divided in two sessions: the first illustrating basic knowledge about whales and dolphins and the importance of these species as ecological indicators to monitor the status of the marine environment. It highlighted the lack of information available on the local population and discussed what can be done to gain more scientific data. It also drew attention to the “Report a sighting” initiative promoted by the UAE Dolphin Project. The second part focussed on whales and dolphins’ strandings, potential causes and first stranding response in case of a dead or alive stranding, citing the scientific value of data that can be collected during a stranding event and the importance of a stranding network, still lacking in UAE. We emphasise the importance of having a centralised information system to unify the information and then redistribute it to the public and how everyone can contribute to gather a better understanding of these species in UAE waters.
All participants were very interested in the presentation and in how they could contribute in the future to promote further awareness of these species among their organisations. These the words of Dr. Hamad Al Falasi: “The efforts of the people behind the UAE Dolphin Project and Dolphin Bay of Atlantis to disseminate information that dolphins and other marine mammals do exist in the UAE waters is truly interesting. This points-out the importance for regulators, such as Trakhees – EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) to have a more active regulation of activities in the marine environment to assure their protection and survival. With the information that we’re highlighted in this workshop, we further commit that these will be embodied in the regulations and guidelines that we will implement.”
Following the workshop EHS Trakhees officially endorsed the project: “..in appreciation of the ideals of the initiative aiming to establish a comprehensive baseline data for the dolphin of the Gulf to eventually design conservation programs for these marine animals. In support of the program, we shall be developing activities that would tap direct stakeholders within our jurisdiction.”
We would like to thanks Dr. Hamad Al Falasi, all the EHS team and Heidi Perez Cao, Vice president of Dolphin Bay, Atlantis for their support.