Original article from the Gulf News, 19-06-06
Abu Dhabi: President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in his capacity as the Ruler of Abu Dhabi, has issued an Emiri Decree declaring a group of islands off the Western Region as a Marine Protected Area.
The group of islands consist of Upper Al Yasat, Lower Al Yasat, Esam and Karsha, covering a total area of 482sq km declared a no-take zone a Marine Protected Area (MPA) where catching or removal of organisms are prohibited.
The Al Yasat MPA is expected to provide effective protection for the area’s fish stocks at various stages in their life cycles, when they are dependent on specific habitat types or locations.
The islands are surrounded by coral reefs, which act as important marine sanctuaries to many species, including the already over-exploited Hamour, Sherri and Farsh. The reefs have good coral growth and high coral cover with around eight coral species present.
It also has significant populations of marine fauna including the endangered Green turtle and the Dugong. Desert hares are present on the islands, where they make use of the natural landscape and vegetation for shelter, food and breeding.
Curbs to be in place on Al Yasat islands
– Any form of hunting, killing or catching wildlife is banned
– Damaging the nesting areas ofand marine turtles is banned
– Changing the geographical features of the islands is prohibited
– Berthing of boats at non-designated areas is banned
– Fishing is restricted within three nautical miles from the nearest low water mark (shoreline) in the MPA.