Sunday, 20 May 2007

Save the Fish

I wonder if I was the only person struck by the sheer incongruity of the Emirates Today Saturday Splash this week. 'Save the Wadi fish' certainly falls into line with the paper's hard-hitting campaigning style, but you would be forgiven for wondering if it's really front page headline news - particularly as the story, by two senior reporters, lacks much detail on the problem that requires a call for the salvation of our fishy friends.

The wadi tracks, including now the famous and much-beloved Hatta track, are being turned into black-top. Few of the 'great' tracks remain. This has resulted in a new level of access to wadis by the public and, as can be seen in Wadi Warrayah, this has meant the devastating pollution of the few wadis that haven't been pumped dry by farmers. That pumping has also resulted in the widespread proliferation of filthy, oily pumps leaching hydrocarbons into the wadi beds. Most of the wadi pools that I know of are now dried out.

The entire nature of the magical ecosystem that has built up around the unique wadi watersystems of the UAE has been changed fundamentally by unplanned and unregulated human activity and that devastating change continues unchecked. Unstudied, uncelebrated and unloved, the wadis are dying by the day.

And they're worrying about the fishies...


Anonymous said...

Selamat Siang,

Terimah Kasih untuk beristerahat Blog saya.

Sampai jumpa

Emma said...


The 'wadifish' project forms a small part of a much larger conservation initiative which I have been part of for almost 2 years.

The fish can be used as a flagship species to raise awareness to the plight of these habitats as a whole. The general public respond better to articles about a particular species rather than talking about biodiversity and ecosystems- 'fish in the desert' is an unusual topic and encourages interest and environmental awareness.

Species conservation ecology is directly linked to habitat protection. Ecological studies of wadi fish add a great deal to our understanding of ecological processes and ecosystem function within wadis. Because these species have a large number of ecological links to other species, comprehensive investigations result in the acquisition of much additional data on other species, interactions, and processes within the wadi system.

The wadis are far from unchecked, unstudied and unloved- myself and my WWF team have been surveying Wadi Wuraya for the past 18 months. This survey has led to the declaration of a protected area by Fujeirah Municipality and sponsorship from HSBC. This is the first terrestrial reserve in the UAE and sets an example by which others will hopefully follow.

I think it is fantastic that an environmental story receives front page news in a region that considers this area of journalism to be a lower priority. We should be congratulating this and not criticising it.
Emma Smart

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