x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Divers lead hunt for sunken wrecks

Campaign begins to safeguard marine life with Dubai Creek clean-up.

Divers are going to join students in a campaign to clean up Dubai's waterways.
Divers are going to join students in a campaign to clean up Dubai's waterways.

DUBAI // Sunken ships at the bottom of Dubai Creek that are estimated to weigh hundreds of tonnes are wreaking havoc on the marine environment.

Today, Dubai Police will deploy 40 divers to locate the ships and other debris left by negligent ship and boat owners and use sea cranes to retrieve any wrecks.

The dive is part of Dubai Municipality's three-day Marasina Campaign, a joint effort by police, Dubai Customs, the private sector and thousands of volunteers, who will clean the city's beaches and creek.

Now in its sixth year, the campaign targets students and the shipping industry, whether they be sailors, fishermen, boat owners or oil tanker operators, to raise awareness on the dangers of marine pollution.

Last year, almost 50 tonnes of waste were collected by 1,500 volunteers.

Captain Yahya Hussain Mohammed, the head of sea rescue at Dubai Police, said additional Civil Defence divers from the fire and rescue department would support the municipality and the shipping repair yard Jadaf Dubai by working to identify wrecks from 9am to 12pm.

"It's obvious there are big spots in the creek full of old debris from boats and other equipment, some of which can amount to more than six tonnes," said Capt Mohammed.

He stressed that factories around the coastal areas should contact the police or municipality if they were unsure about their waste, because "they are not allowed to dump and there are penalties".

The director general of Dubai Municipality, Hussain Nasser Lootah, said the sea constituted an integral environmental system and pollution brought by ships could have a devastating effect on the marine ecology.

The municipality will also look at enforcing stricter penalties for littering or other types of marine damage as a result of human behaviour.

"We have laws and regulations and monitoring teams. When we gather under one umbrella, like today, it's to bring together one message and that is: everyone is responsible," Mr Lootah said. "Sometimes we have to put in place stricter regulations because if you embark on campaigns, use media and other tools, [sometimes] people do not listen.

Then you are forced to go for certain punishments."

Overfishing and exploitation of aquatic life also had a significant impact on the marine environment, according to the director of the environment department at Dubai Municipality, Hamdan Al Shaer.

"We want to educate people on the historical importance of the marine environment and how it should be sustained," said Mr Al Shaer. "It's a source of life and threats from oil spills, for example, affect fish and recreational activities."

melshoush@thenational.ae