MCS heads to Oman to dive two new Marine Protected Areas
MCS heads to Oman to dive two new Marine Protected Areas Will a year’s protection have paid off? In two secluded bays in the coral-rich waters of the Musandam Peninsula in Oman, all fishing except local handline fishing have been banned for almost a year.
MCS heads to Oman to dive two new Marine Protected Areas Will a year’s protection have paid off? In two secluded bays in the coral-rich waters of the Musandam Peninsula in Oman, all fishing except local handline fishing have been banned for almost a year. This significant step forward in the conservation of the beauty and resources of this relatively untouched marine area was welcomed by MCS and the research organization, Biosphere Expeditions, who have spearheaded the underwater research effort and campaign towards greater protection in the area. Dives, using the ReefCheck coral reef survey methodology, were conducted over five years between 2009 - 2013. The coral reefs of the Musandam peninsula, situated on the Arabian Peninsula in the Strait of Hormuz, endure extreme conditions such as high salinity and temperatures, existing - indeed thriving - in what would be considered marginal and highly challenging environments for corals in other parts of the world. MCS is now joining forces once again with Biosphere Expeditions to undertake the first ReefCheck monitoring trip to the two new Musandam Marine Protected Areas from October 26 - November 1st 2014. MCS has been working with Biosphere, other regionally based scientists and government officials over the past five years to undertake systematic surveys of local reefs. The surveys this year will take in assessments of coral health, fish populations, and fisheries indicator species (such as the regionally important grouper) both inside and outside the new MPAs. Dr. Matthias Hammer, founder and executive director of the Biosphere organization, explained why the ban on fisheries apart from handline, is so important: “This area has a high coral coverage at nearly 60 percent of the seabed. This is greater than that of most reefs around the world, and the Musandam reefs are certainly the best in the region. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ (MoAF) decision prohibited the use of all kinds of nets and cages, and any other fishing equipment, except handlines. This is a wise and important step in ensuring the survival of this unique marine ecosystem and natural jewel in Oman’s crown. Ø Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter feeds to see how our Dr Jean-Luc Solandt and the dive team get on.