Protection for Musandam peninsula in Oman

Richard Harrington By: Richard Harrington
Date posted: 27 October 2014

In two secluded bays in the coral-rich waters of the Musandam peninsula in Oman, all fishing except local handline fishing has been banned for almost a year.

In two secluded bays in the coral-rich waters of the Musandam peninsula in Oman, all fishing except local handline fishing has 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. Now, almost a year since the initial designation MCS will be joining forces with Biosphere Expeditions to undertake the first ReefCheck monitoring trip to the two new Musandam Marine Protected Areas. (October 26 - November 1st). 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. Although Musandam corals exhibit extraordinary resilience, there is concern that any additional stress as a result of natural disasters and/or anthropogenic impacts, for example, may induce coral die-off. For the past decade, reefs within the Arabian Gulf have been devastated by major coral bleaching events, cyclones, harmful algal blooms and extensive coastal developments. Fisheries of the area have also declined, with longlining significantly reducing shark numbers, whilst targeted hammour (grouper) fisheries in the region are in decline in many regions. Biosphere has been working with MCS, other regionally based scientists and government officials over the past 5 years to undertake systematic surveys of local reefs. Our surveys this October 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. The MPAs will restrict all forms of fishing other than hand-lining.

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