Abu Dhabi is to build the Middle East's most advanced research ship to boost efforts to safeguard marine life in the emirate.
The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi said the state-of-the-art ship would allow it to study previously unchartered waters at least 10 metres deep in the Arabian Gulf.
Carrying up to 30 personnel, the 50-metre vessel has an array of cutting-edge equipment such as five laboratories to process samples on board, a remotely occupied vehicle and facilities to allow for crew members to carry out scuba diving missions.
The ship will enable the agency to complete comprehensive marine surveys including of the deepwater marine ecological baseline; fisheries resources assessment; deepwater habitat of coral and seagrass; marine water and sediment quality; and megafauna of the likes of cetaceans such as dolphins, dugong and turtles.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, chairman of EAD, said the investment was vital to the agency's drive to protect marine biodiversity across the country.
“After the resounding success we have achieved with the dramatic improvement of fish stock numbers in Abu Dhabi waters, due to new policies and legislation, we are proud to be continuing our research on fisheries and all marine biodiversity to maintain the momentum of the significant work we have done so far," Sheikh Hamdan said.
"The addition of a new cutting-edge, scientific research vessel to lead our marine research is a momentous achievement that will enable us to monitor and conserve our fish stocks and marine biodiversity in addition to fostering the passion of our young Emirati marine scientists for years to come. I am excited about the addition of a new multipurpose research vessel to pioneer our oceanographic and fisheries research in our deeper waters.”
The high-tech ship will be used to help the agency respond to threats facing the marine environment, including debris, invasive species and climate change.
“At EAD we always strive to be a step ahead and be at the helm of progressive scientific research, using the most innovative tools and equipment," said Mohammed Al Bawardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs and EAD's vice chairman.
"The development of this new and innovative research vessel will allow us to maintain our edge in marine research and in the sustainable management of fisheries – which is one of our main strategic priorities and one of our main success stories.”
The vessel will be built by FRIERE Shipyard in Vigo, Spain with Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding managing the construction in support of the EAD team.
The design of the ship started in January and it is due to arrive in Abu Dhabi in December, 2022.
An initial sea trial will be carried out in Vigo in late 2022 with Gulf condition trials taking place after the voyage of the ship to the capital.