UAE launches plan to save its turtles

Of the seven species of turtles found in the world’s oceans, five can be found in the UAE


Turtles released into the sea by Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project.

The Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project (DTRP) is at Madinat Jumeirah and is run in collaboration with Dubai���s Wildlife Protection Office, with essential veterinary support provided by the Dubai Falcon Clinic and the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory.

The project has been running in its current form since 2004 and has so far seen the release of over 1,600 rescued sea turtles back into Dubai���s waters. In 2011 alone over 350 sick or injured sea turtles have been treated by the DTRP after being washed up on the regions beaches. The DTRP is currently the only project of its kind in the Middle East and Red Sea region.

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

Section:  na

A plan to protect the turtles that inhabit the UAE’s seas was revealed by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment on Wednesday.

The three-year National Plan of Action for the Conservation of Marine Turtles in the UAE aims to expedite local laws to protect turtles and stymie the direct and indirect causes of their deaths. These causes include abandoned fishing nets, plastic debris and other pollution as well as the destruction of turtle habitats through coastal developments, desalination and climate change.

Increased research, monitoring and information exchange is also outlined in the scheme.

Through these activities, it is hoped that turtle habitats will be rehabilitated and preserved.

“The survival of marine turtles is currently threatened by habitat loss and degradation, incidental mortality in mechanised and artisanal fisheries, marine pollution, and the effects of climate change,” said Hiba Al Shehhi, acting director of the Biodiversity Department at the ministry.

She said there are 15 marine protected areas in the UAE which span more than 12 per cent of the country’s territorial waters.

“Marine turtles have found a sanctuary in these areas, which have become their regular nesting site.”

Of the seven species of turtles found in the world’s oceans, five can be found in the UAE. All seven are all listed between Vulnerable to Critically Endangered no the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.

The hawksbill turtle, loggerhead turtle, and green turtle have settled in the UAE, while the leatherback turtle and olive ridley sea turtle are migratory species.