Sharjah, The Gulf Observer: The 23rd edition of the Sharjah International Conservation Forum for Arabia’s Biodiversity, organized by the Environment and Protected Areas Authority in Sharjah (EPAA), continued its impactful deliberations on vital environmental issues, with a specific focus on marine stranding and the genetic impact on ecosystems.
Taking place at Sharjah Safari, the forum brought together more than 215 environmental experts, researchers, and specialists from around the globe. The third day of the event, concluding today, delved into insightful discussions on the challenges faced by marine creatures, particularly sea snakes in the Arabian Peninsula, due to stranding incidents. Led by experienced veterinarians and environmental researchers, the sessions aimed to facilitate knowledge exchange and formulate innovative strategies for the preservation of marine life.
The first session commenced with a comprehensive introduction to the conservation of genetic diversity, featuring a presentation by Dr. Helen Senn, which presented a report on regional activities dedicated to marine stranding cases. The report aimed to create an accurate map of the efforts of regional response teams, identifying areas lacking coverage within marine response networks. The session also explored the stranding network and discussed various methods to strengthen it.
Speakers in this session included Fadi Yaghmour, who spoke about the Sharjah Strandings Response Programme, and Dr. Elise Marquis, who reviewed the experience of SeaWorld Research & Rescue Centre. Other presentations covered the National Aquarium project by Natassia Mannina, an overview of projects at Atlantis Aquarium by Timea Krisztina Szekely, and marine stranding initiatives at the Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi by Dr. Hind Al Marri. Barbara Langlenton commemorated 20 years of marine turtle rehabilitation with her paper on “Conservation of Marine Environment and Its Tourism,” and Dr. Andrew Wilson presented findings from the Large Whale Entanglement Assessment and Response project in the Arabian Sea.
The agenda also highlighted the habitat, behavior, and conservation of sea snakes in the Arabian Peninsula, emphasizing their crucial role in sustaining marine ecosystems. Workshops were conducted on post-mortem examination methodologies and first aid protocols for sea snake encounters, enhancing participants’ understanding and preparedness for such scenarios.
The second session focused on the importance of conserving genetic diversity for species and their role in sustaining the future of endangered ecosystems in the region. Dedicated to exploring advanced endeavors and applications implemented in genetics for conservation, the session addressed goal number 4 of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
Esteemed experts emphasized the fundamental role of genetic diversity in conserving biodiversity and ensuring the health and resilience of ecosystems. The session also featured in-depth discussions on genetic performance cards, an assessment tool designed to monitor genetic diversity comprehensively. These cards play a crucial role in guiding conservation strategies, especially in identifying vulnerable groups and implementing breeding and re-introduction programs.
The Sharjah International Conservation Forum continues to serve as a platform for meaningful discussions and collaborations, contributing to the global discourse on environmental conservation and biodiversity.