Ministry of Environment and Water holds regional workshop on impact of sandstorms on marine environment in the region

Dubai, 30th October, 2015 (WAM) — The Ministry of Environment and Water held a regional workshop on monitoring and evaluating the effects of sandstorms and dusts in the marine environment. Organized in cooperation with the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME) in Dubai, the event saw the participation of ROPME member states, regional and international experts, and groups of specialists from federal and local entities.
Mariam Hareb, Assistant Undersecretary of Water Resources and Nature Conservation Affairs, Ministry of Environment and Water, said the workshop is in accordance with the UAE’s strategic marine and coastal sustainability programs. Salem Akram, Director of the Ministry’s Marine and Coastal Sustainability Department, added that the lecture focused on developing an action plan for a comprehensive evaluation of dust storms, its after-effects and impact on the marine environment and all living things. Sandstorms are known transmitter of various pollutants, including organic compounds that are less soluble in water, gaseous particles, and agricultural pesticides, that affect the coral reefs and the entire marine ecosystem.
During the workshop, Fahad Mohammed Saeed Hareb, Director of Air Quality Department, Ministry of Environment and Water, discussed the UAE’s experience presented at the National Network for Monitoring Air Quality, one of the outputs of the Government Innovation Lab. The session also looked into various ways to reduce risks and assess the impact of sandstorms and dusts on the marine environment, a challenge facing the region today. Eng. Hareb pointed out that sandstorms have some aerse effects on the marine environment’s productivity and quality. Intensified efforts are therefore needed to develop national and regional programs and plans for continuous assessment of their negative effects.
Storms in the region are classified under three main categories. The first category covers flying dust in which the horizontal visibility is less than 11 kilometers that lasts for three and four days, while the second category has a horizontal visibility of less than a kilometer with large quantities of dusts lasting from two to three days. The third and final category contains intense dust storm with horizontal visibility of less than 200 meters. It lasts for a few hours accompanied by very large amounts of dusts and monsoon.