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Protecting Red Sea from ship pollution

Last updated: Monday, April 08, 2013 11:03 AM


Fatima Muhammad
Saudi Gazette



JEDDAH — Ships passing by the Red Sea or docked at any of its ports will soon be asked to have equipped water treatment machines to treat water and protect marine life and limit the spread of pollution around seas, an official for a regional marine conservation group told Saudi Gazette.

There is an international protocol that stresses the need for ships to have water treatment facilities built in them, said the Secretary-General of the Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA), Ziad Abu Ghararah.

He said: “Ships’ contribution to pollution is an essential issue when addressing environment and marine life. All countries on the Red Sea coast will have to adhere to the new protocol and be ready for it.”

The most pressing environment and marine life issue in the Red Sea, said Ghararah, is sewage dumping. Further studies are awaiting ministerial approval to address environment issues in the Red Sea and Aden Gulf regions, he said.

According to him, no poor countries around the coast have been documented as being used by other countries in order to dump any waste or polluted materials in their Red Sea water territories.

Ghararah was talking on Sunday at the 16th regional focus points meeting in Jeddah in preparation for ministerial meetings involving members of PERSGA that will be held on Tuesday in the same city.

The secretary-general said the organization has addressed efforts made by member countries and have also critiqued a study that will look into pollution in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden and how to expand the marine reserve network.

A major risk also linked to ships is the natural barriers in the Red Sea, coral reefs, which are extensive in some areas. This can make it risky and challenging for ships to pass smoothly, putting the coral at risk of pollution from oil, sewage and chemical effluents. The environment ministers of PERSGA Tuesday will set the annual budget and also agree on a number of projects and studies regarding the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden environment.

They will also address a proposal that is expected to reduce pollution in the Red Sea from the dumping of toxic and radioactive materials. They will also approve new methods to combat climate change. Members of PERSGA include officials from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Djibouti, Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia.

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