AMMAN — increasing maritime
transport, development and tourist projects on the Red Sea coast are
threatening its biodiversity, a regional expert warned on Thursday, while
Jordan renewed its commitment to preserving its only sea gate.
The Red Sea, among other marine
environments in the Arab region, is witnessing an accelerating development of
projects that could cause environment degradation, natural resources
exploitation and loss of biodiversity if its preservation is disregarded, said
Ziad Hamzah Abu Ghararah, secretary general of the Regional Organisation for
the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA).
The Red Sea is internationally
regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful and cleanest seas, while the Gulf
of Aden is known for its wealth of diverse fish species, Abu Ghararah said
during PERSGA’s 17th ministerial council meeting.
Although the Arab region’s
marine environments are kept clean from pollution and its biological diversity
is preserved “so far” compared to other seas across the world, they are
increasingly witnessing challenges and pressures, he said, underscoring that
climate change is among them.
“Marine ecosystems are among
this region’s main pillars of socio-economic development, serving as a
renewable and sustainable source of food… which necessitates preserving it for
current and future generations,” Abu Ghararah noted.
The one-day meeting saw
the participation of the environment ministers of Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan,
Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen to approve PERSGA’s technical and
Minister of Environment Yaseen
Khayyat said that Jordan deems the preservation and development of the Gulf of
Aqaba, which is located at the northern tip of the Red Sea, a priority because
it is the Kingdom’s only sea gate and an important development hub.
The government has taken
several measures to protect the marine environment of the Gulf of Aqaba and the
Red Sea, Khayyat said, indicating that the Kingdom was one of the first
countries to sign the Jeddah Convention in 1982.
The Jeddah Convention expresses
in clear terms of the commitment and the political will of the governments of
the region to conserve the marine and coastal environments of the Red Sea and
Gulf of Aden through joint coordinated activities, according to PERSGA.
The minister underscored that
Jordan was also among the first countries in the region to put forward strict
regulations banning the discharging, dumping or burying of any harmful
substances in the Gulf of Aqaba.
He noted that the Kingdom also
has a zero discharge of any liquids or wastewater into the Gulf of Aqaba waters.
The Gulf of Aqaba is a
semi-enclosed water basin attached to the semi-enclosed Red Sea, with a length
of 170km, an average width of about 15km and a maximum depth of more than 1,800
metres, according to the Royal Marine Conservation Society.
Its water is warm year round,
with the average sea temperature standing at 24°C, according to the society,
which indicated that Jordan’s 27km coastline represents the northernmost
outcropping of coral reef in the world and tolerates a high salinity rate
compared to other seas.