The majority of Qatar’s listed endangered species are marine ones. This is contrary to the global trend, wherein terrestrial species predominantly make up the endangered group, said the Doha-based environmental expert Dr Iain Macdonald.

Macdonald, of the Safety, Environment and Quality Department, QatarGas, said Qatar is home to at least 955 marine species. Of this, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has included 27 in its “Red List” of threatened species. The IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network.

Among some of the more commonly known endangered species in Qatari waters are various species of sea turtle. Sharks are well represented on the endangered list.

In addition to marine pollution, land-based pollution has significant impact on marine biodiversity in Qatar. Qatar, along with its neighboring states, faces this issue due to the structure of the Gulf and the high number of coastal industries in the region.

“Many industries are utilizing the marine environment for product extraction, plant cooling, and desalination or as a convenient sink. Hence there is an urgent need for a careful control on these activities”, he said.

Offshore industries and oil and gas platforms require close monitoring and regulation by the appropriate regulators. Much of the cargo bound for export form Qatar utilises the shipping industry for its movement. This creates several threats to marine biodiversity. One of the most significant and potentially devastating is the issue of invasive species introduced into Qatari waters from the ballast tanks and hulls of ships. These new species can outnumber locally occurring species if they have no local predators, with an overall negative effect on local marine biodiversity.

Waste management is an obvious area in need of improvement in Qatari and neighboring waters, given the vast quantities of waste that washes up on the shores.

Coastal development for the creation of ports and industrial use of sea water are a currently unavoidable effect of the economic monetization of the state’s oil and gas reserves. Another significant issue with respect to coastal development is the Middle East’s recent trend of creating man-made islands and urbanized coastlines that now rank as one of the largest potent threats to the marine environment, he added.

Source:The Peninsula

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