Dubai: Dubai Municipality will participate in the Global Conservation Coalition which will host a New Year’s Eve celebration in Los Angeles, California on December 31 to launch its worldwide ocean protection initiative called ‘Our Big Blue Expedition’.

The coalition comprises several non-profit conservation organisations and several international organisations such as the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), and the Explorer’s Club, an international, multidisciplinary organisation of professional scientists.

The patron of the coalition is José Ramos-Horta, Nobel laureate and former president of East Timor.

Our Big Blue Expedition offers sponsors and their guests an opportunity to get up-close and personal with the incredible blue whales and participate in research and tagging activities in the Coral Triangle countries of Malaysia and East Timor, in Southeast Asia, the municipality said in a press release.

Each expedition on board a luxury charter yacht will be filmed and documented to showcase the blue whales and other endangered marine species for the world to see and discover, it said.

Our Big Blue Expedition New Year’s Eve launch and fund-raising party features silent auction items, including original paintings, and a special opportunity to join the expedition as a guest of the coalition.

Alya Al Harmoudi, director of the Environment Department, said that the municipality is pleased to participate in such a huge event that contributes to the conservation of marine environment.

She said Dubai Municipality received the invitation to the event due to its pioneering position in protecting the ocean environment and raising awareness on it.

“We continue our efforts in conserving the Jebel Ali Marine Sanctuary and coastal water in Dubai, which hosts an exemplary biodiversity of unique coral species and marine fauna of international conservation status, such as the dugong (sea cow) and Hawksbill sea turtle. The sanctuary was also declared an Ecologically and Biologically Sensitive Area (EBSA) by the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2015. So, the initiative is important to Dubai as much as it is to the other countries across the globe.”

Dubai Municipality delegation, led by Peter Farrington of the Environment Department, will be participating in the event with a number of paintings that reflect the role of the department and its efforts in conserving the marine environment and address any threats that may result in degradation or pollution.

Al Harmoudi added that the Environment Department believes in the importance of conserving the marine environment as it is a major source of life on earth and the conservation of marine and coastal environment is a responsibility of all nations, governments and individuals alike.

The IUCN was formed following a meeting of leading marine scientists, media experts and international media agency which took place during the inaugural United Oceans Conference, New York on June 5-9, 2017.

The main objective of this alliance was to stop the devastation of coral reefs caused by fish bombing, a highly destructive fishing practice, which occurs in the Coral Triangle of the Western Pacific Ocean and many other parts of the world.

Now, the goal of IUCN has broadened to help protect endangered blue whales, marine wildlife, coral reefs and the habitats of seas and oceans around the world. Its overall aim is to contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 14, (SDG 14), “Life Below Water”.