SHARJAH // Four types of fish were released into the Arabian Gulf by Sharjah Aquarium on Monday to mark the UN-backed World Oceans Day.
For the past five years the aquarium has marked the day, which was recognised by the United Nations in 2008 to acknowledge the impact the world’s oceans have on our lives.
The theme of the 2015 campaign, Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet, inspired the aquarium to release hammour, parrotfish, rabbitfish and red-toothed triggerfish to highlight the importance of protecting the marine environment from threats such as pollution and overfishing, and to highlight the biodiversity of the maritime ecosystem.
The event was attended by Sharjah officials and 20 residents of various nationalities and ages who, through contacting the aquarium on social media, got the chance to release the fish, said Rashid Al Shamsi, acting curator of Sharjah Aquarium.
“We’re trying to inform the public about the things that can harm these fish, some of which are endangered species.
“We can all make a difference, for example, by not dropping litter or plastic bags along the coastline,” he said.
“World Oceans Day is a perfect opportunity for us to demonstrate the work we are doing through different programmes to protect these species.
“This year we invited members of the public to attend so that we can really push our message of how important these species are, and why we should all be taking measures to protect them.”
Mr Al Shamsi said that before the fish were released a team of divers had been sent out to examine the marine environment to assess which of the aquarium’s more than 100 species of fish could survive in the Gulf.
He also said that the public had a fundamental role to play in protecting marine life by not throwing rubbish on the beach.
The release was followed by an educational workshop for children to raise awareness about some of the threats faced by marine life and how everyone can play a part in preserving Sharjah’s coastal waters.
“The workshop taught the kids the importance of the marine environment and the kind of species in it, and the children have started to know the names of Arabian Gulf fish that we have in the aquarium,” Mr Al Shamsi said.
The other aim of celebrating World Oceans Day was to inform the community about protecting marine life and about eating sustainable seafood, said Manal Ataya, director general of Sharjah Museum Department.
“Our annual participation in World Oceans Day is a key strand of our social responsibility initiative and demonstrates our commitment to preserving the rich ecosystem of Sharjah and the UAE as a whole,” she said.
“We want the community to know they can actually make a difference and help by eating only sustainable seafood and reducing their consumption of plastic.”