Abandoned fishing gear and marine debris were collected in underwater clean-up in Al Mirfa. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) organised an underwater clean-up at Al Mirfa port recently.

This clean-up was the biggest and last of a series of eight organised in 2018 as part of the ‘Together We Make a Difference’ campaign aimed at promoting a safe, clean and healthy natural environment to commemorate the UAE’s Year of Zayed.

A total of 155 volunteers participated in the clean-up, including 88 divers from various groups in UAE: the Abu Dhabi Diving Team, Seven Emirates Diving Team, Zaab Diving Team, Dubai Voluntary Diving Team, Zayed Search and Rescue Volunteers Team, Asaad Shaab Volunteering Team, UAE Fishes Team, Al Hoot Diving Centre, Alpha Diving Club and the Al Awael Equipment Centre Team.

Around 4,700 kilograms of marine litter — 3,400 kilograms of abandoned and banned fishing nets and 1,300 kilograms of trash collected from the seabed — were removed. The waste mainly consisted of ropes, fishing nets, and iron and plastic pipes, and was sorted based on quantity and weight.

The clean-up was organised in collaboration with the Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority (CICPA), Al Mirfa Port, Al Dhafra Region Municipality, Centre of Waste Management (Tadweer), West Coast Co. LLC, New Medical Centre hospital (NMC) and the Emirates Diving Association.

“Preventing marine pollution is the first step in promoting the protection and sustainable management of our local marine ecosystems, as well as human health,” said Ahmad Al Hashemi, Acting Executive Director of the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi’s Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity sector. “It is important that we keep our waters clean to ensure that Abu Dhabi’s threatened species, including our turtles, dugongs and dolphins continue to thrive in these waters. I would like to thank all our partners who supported this initiative, which builds on our founding father’s legacy of environmental protection and preservation.”

Salem Al Rumaithi, General Manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, said: “The campaign contributes to raising the awareness of fishermen on preserving marine protected areas and marine environment, through the abandonment of net fishing during breeding seasons.”

The ‘Together We Make a Difference’ clean-up campaign aims to foster and nurture public participation in environmental activities, to enhance environmental awareness and social responsibility towards the conservation of our environment.