The ROPME Sea Area (RSA) is endowed with valuable natural resources
and a great biodiversity of plant and animal species. The wetlands,
waterfowl, mangroves, fish, marine mammals, turtles, corals and
other forms of life are treasures of the region. Its dugong population
is second in global importance only to Australias. There are
some 20 species of dolphin and whale, all the five subtropical species
of turtles, and more than 1000 species of fish, most of which are
endemic and have a high commercial value.
Our marine waters are shallow and virtually landlocked, experiencing
extremes of salinity and temperature. Evaporation is high, precipitation
is poor and freshwater supply is decreasing.
The risk of oil pollution is one of the highest anywhere, mainly
due to the concentration of offshore installations, tanker
terminals, petrochemical industries and the huge volume of oil transported
by ships. The offshore installations are located in the inner sea
area, a critically balanced ecosystem with higher levels of pollutants,
salinity and temperature. The establishment of reception facilities
for oily wastes and other wastes is of high priority, as is the
protection of water quality in the vicinity of water intakes.
For the past three decades the Region has witnessed one of the
worlds highest rates of economic growth. The rise in industrialization
together with high population growth and rapid urbanization have
resulted in ever-greater impacts from land-based sources of pollution
on the regions coastal waters. To take advantage of access
to the sea for transportation and water, almost all development
projects have been established on the coasts, where they release
their effluents into the most productive areas of the marine environment.
Municipal sewage, industrial wastes, dredging and reclamation activities
are permanent features of many parts of the coast.
The draining of the Marshlands of Mesopotamia has posed serious
threats to the wildlife and to the ecological balance of vast areas,
affecting water quality and the spawning grounds of shrimp and migratory
species of fish. Successive satellite images depict the transformation
of a one-time haven for migratory birds and a major fisheries resource
into an arid, barren land.
In April 1978, the eight Governments of the Region adopted the
Kuwait Convention and Action Plan, making us one of the first Regional
Seas. The Plan mainly covers programme activities relating to oil
pollution, industrial wastes, sewage and marine resources. Projects
range over coastal area management, fisheries, public health, land-based
activities, sea-based pollution, biodiversity, oceanography, marine
emergencies, GIS and remote sensing, environmental awareness and
Milestones include the creation in 1979 of the Regional Organization
for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME), the establishment
in 1982 of the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC), and the
adoption of four protocols addressing marine emergencies, hazardous
wastes, land-based activities and sea-based pollution.
The concept of environmentally sound and sustainable development
has been promoted by ROPME since its establishment. To this effect,
many programmes have been prepared and successfully implemented.
Our State of the Marine Environment Report bears witness to how
seriously our Member States are taking the protection of their marine
Dr Abdul Rahman Al-Awadi is Executive Secretary
Regional Organization for the Protection of Marine Environment
P.O. Box 26388
Safat 13124, Kuwait,
State of Kuwait
Tel: +965 531 2140/3;
Fax: +965 533 5243
E-mail: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org