Abu Dhabi: A new marine research vessel has been launched in Abu Dhabi to study biodiversity and the impact of climate change.
Named ‘Jaywun’, the ship was launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD). ‘Jaywun’ is a local term that symbolises one of the finest and most valuable pearl types due to its purity and complete roundness.
The vessel will contribute to strengthening national and global marine science capabilities and enable the Agency to implement its ‘Ocean World Discovery’ project.
The launch ceremony was attended by Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Agency; Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment; Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development; Falah Mohamed Al Ahbabi, Chairman, Department of Municipalities and Transport; Staff Major General Pilot Faris Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Abu Dhabi Police Commander-in-Chief; Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EAD, and Ahmad Saqr Al Suwaidi, CEO ADNOC Offshore.
The ceremony was also attended by Ahmed Matar Al Dhaheri, Director of the Office of His Highness the Ruler’s Representative in the Al Dhafra Region, and Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of EAD.
Sheikh Hamdan said: “EAD, since its inception, has focused on scientific research and exploratory studies of the environment and wildlife to enhance knowledge of the emirate’s biodiversity as well as the environmental and ecological pressures it faces. The research will be led by a specialised team of passionate environmental experts who will apply their considerable collective knowledge and work to develop a deeper understanding of the marine environment and formulate a response to any threats.”
He added: “The research will also provide a solid scientific foundation to ensure effective and sustainable management of the marine environment as part of the UAE’s commitment to developing solutions to the region’s most prominent challenges.”
The 50-metre vessel will operate in the territorial waters of the UAE in the Arabian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, allowing EAD to complete its studies of the marine environment and fisheries in waters deeper than 10 metres.
The vessel will berth around 30 people, and is equipped with the latest research equipment, including six laboratories for studying samples on the ship, and a remotely operated submarine vehicle. The research vessel will enable EAD to monitor and preserve fish stocks and marine biodiversity and help ignite a passion for oceanography and fisheries studies among young Emirati researchers in the world’s hottest sea, the Arabian Gulf.
The vessel will also support several environmental initiatives, such as the Blue Carbon Assessment Project for Oceanic Fisheries – the first oceanic, blue carbon fisheries assessment survey in the region. The survey project was created to support the UAE’s strategic initiative to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and will be conducted in the country’s waters.
The work plan also includes establishing a DNA baseline for the UAE’s main fish species, while studying the complete genome sequences of more than 10 major fish species. The survey combines the collection of marine organisms with the use of underwater sound wave techniques. The project will include a comprehensive Fisheries Resources Assessment Survey to assess the fisheries of the country’s waters during 2023, providing the latest data on fish stocks, conditions, and other metrics.
The comprehensive Fisheries Research Assessment Survey which is a core component of the Blue Carbon Oceanic Assessment is considered an extremely important project at both the national and regional levels, providing a clear picture of the status and key trends within the UAE’s fisheries, and will help EAD implement the necessary measures for their sustainability and development, as well as recovery plans.
The Agency commissioned the Freire Shipbuilding Company in Vigo, Spain to develop the vessel under the supervision of the Abu Dhabi Ship Building Company, and with the support of the Agency’s team. The vessel was designed and built to suit the sea conditions of the Gulf region, characterised by their shallowness and high salinity. Before the vessel embarked on its voyage to Abu Dhabi, preliminary sea trials were conducted off the Spanish coast to test the vessel’s readiness.
The vessel began its one-month, maiden voyage at the end of November, and crossed three continents – Europe, Africa and Asia – including the waters of 25 countries and eight regional seas, covering a distance of more than 10,000km.
Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of EAD, said: “The completion of our new marine research vessel is an important step for us at the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, and we are very excited to benefit from it in support of the emirate’s efforts to preserve its environment and marine biodiversity, and marine resources of the United Arab Emirates. The vessel has the capacity to conduct comprehensive marine and fisheries surveys, including basic deep water marine environmental surveys, fisheries resource assessment surveys, coral reef and seagrass habitat surveys, studies of marine water quality and sediment, and biological surveys. In addition, the vessel will play an important role in developing strategies and management plans to ensure the recovery and sustainability of fish stocks.”
The EAD Secretary-General confirmed that the development of an EAD-owned research vessel confirms the willingness of Abu Dhabi Emirate’s leadership and government to support the Agency’s scientific approach to sustainably managing the marine environment and preserving healthy aquatic ecosystems, especially in the oceans.
The Agency recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The Cyprus Institute and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Germany, regarding cooperation on an exploratory Atmospheric Research Expedition – a world first – that involved around 30 experts from the three MoU signatories. The expedition was carried out aboard a marine research vessel equipped with advanced monitoring equipment. The equipment was operated by researchers from the Cyprus Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Research, a leading regional centre of excellence in air pollution and climate change research, and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, which carries out pioneering research based on a comprehensive understanding of the Earth’s atmospheric chemical processes, and their interactions.
This important research study contributed valuable new data to better understanding coastal and marine air quality and climate change. During the trip, more than 22 different parameters were monitored, including air quality, greenhouse gas concentrations, as well as volatile organic compounds, dust storms, and atmospheric air properties.
Last October, the Agency and SAFEEN Group, the marine services arm of AD Ports Group, signed an agreement to manage, operate, and maintain the marine research vessel.
Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, Managing Director and Group CEO, AD Ports Group stressed the Group’s keenness to support scientific research, keep pace with the latest technological advancements, and adopt innovation into the work culture across its business units in line with the vision of the wise leadership.
He said: “We would like to extend our gratitude to [Sheikh Hamdan] for inaugurating the marine research vessel ‘Jaywun’ which is considered the UAE’s first ship of its kind and the most advanced craft in the Middle East”.
He added: “At AD Ports Group we are proud to have SAFEEN Group manage, operate and maintain the research vessel, which reflects our technological advancement, our growing capabilities and our active role in supporting scientific research.”
The Agency has also signed three agreements with UAE University, Khalifa University, and Abu Dhabi University to cooperate on research and development, support the vessel’s environmental research role, while building capacities and empowering students and researchers in the field of scientific research. The Agency will expand the scope of cooperation with UAE-based and overseas academic and research institutions to maximise the research vessel’s value. The aim is for the ship is to become a pioneering platform for marine research at the state level.