Sharjah: Three local conservationist groups organised an event at Al Majaz Waterfront in Sharjah on Friday to raise awareness about the environmental, cultural and traditional significance of Sir Bu Nair island, which lies off the coast of the emirate.

The groups — Sharjah’s Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA), Emirates Nature-World Wildlife Fund and the Emirates Marine Environmental Group (EMEG) — are also collaborating on a project to conserve marine ecosystems on and around the island, which boasts a biodiverse nature reserve.

EPAA chairperson, Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, said: “His Highness Shaikh Dr Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, declared Sir Bu Nair Island a protected nature reserve in 2000. Formerly a haven for pearl divers and fishermen, this island is of ecological, historical, cultural and political significance.

“The goal is to use Sir Bu Nair Island as a model for the management of the UAE’s Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). We also plan to emphasise the socioeconomic and ecological benefits of conserving marine environments. This project will benefit the environment, society and future generations of Emiratis,” she added.

At the launch, people were invited to upload images on Instagram using the hashtag #pearlofsharjah; their images were used to create a digital mosaic of the pearl-shaped island and one of the participants won two tickets to the Sir Bu Nair Festival.

Recognised as an area of Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention, Sir Bu Nair Island has rich and diverse habitats and species including turtles, birds and coral reefs. The three-year conservation project is scheduled to start this year, and researchers will explore and survey critical marine habitats and species. During the final phase of the project, EPAA, Emirates Nature-WWF, and EMEG will formulate recommendations for the long-term monitoring and sustainable management of the Marine Protected Areas.