Sharjah: Prospects for ocean conservation received a promising boost as international photography festival Xposure opened its first-ever conservation summit here under the theme ‘Save Our Oceans’ to explore hope and solutions to safeguard the precious biodiversity of the world’s marine ecosystems.
The one-day summit dedicated to ocean conservation and visual storytelling opened at Expo Center Sharjah in the presence of Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Deputy Governor of Sharjah. Hosted in partnership with the International League of Conservation Photographers, the summit began with a short video showcasing the incredible beauty and diversity of ocean creatures found across the planet’s diverse climatic terrains.
National Geographic explorers Brian Skerry, David Doubilet, Jennifer Hayes, Jeffrey Garriock and Laurent Ballesta, who witnessed the beauty and devastation that occurs in all ocean ecosystems and accumulated over 80,000 hours of combined documentation about underwater changes, shared their inspiring experiences with the audience. at the top.
Addressing a distinguished assembly of environmentalists, biologists, ocean explorers, researchers and photographers, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates, expressed her gratitude to the Sharjah Government Media Office (SGMB) for drawing attention to a global concern and helping bring about active solutions to preserve the oceans and their wildlife. The Minister of Climate Change and Environment also thanked the International League of Conservation Photographers, conservationists and scientists participating in the Xposure Conservation Summit for their efforts in deliberating and formulating solutions to overcome the challenges facing the planet is facing.
Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, said: “The focus on the oceans at the Conservation Summit is a wise choice, as the oceans are the largest and most important ecosystem on our planet. Three quarters of our planet is covered by oceans. they are the largest carbon sinks in the world and the source of income for hundreds of millions of people around the world.
“The Importance of Marine Wealth”
The Minister said: “The marine environment of the United Arab Emirates has a very high biodiversity and our awareness of the economic, social and environmental importance of this marine wealth has led us to implement many measures to preserve and safeguard the sustainability of its resources and address issues that affect the health of the oceans.
The Minister highlighted the measures initiated by the United Arab Emirates to protect its marine environment, including the regulation of fishing activities, the expansion of the aquaculture industry, the creation of marine protected areas, the fight against marine pollution, the conservation of threatened marine species and rehabilitation of affected marine areas. She said the UAE’s goal to expand its mangrove coverage from 30 million to 100 million trees by 2030 has helped build the resilience of the country’s marine environment and maintain its global leadership. in the Marine Protected Area category of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI).
Photographs capture distress calls
In her remarks, Alya Al Suwaidi, Director of SGMB, said: “The theme of the Conservation Summit, ‘Save our Oceans’, transforms the slogan from a simple title into hundreds, thousands and millions of images. compelling and dynamic ones that powerfully illuminate irreversible threats. facing the marine environment. It inspired Xposure to lead the effort to save the oceans and tell the stories of the dangers that lie ahead if no action is taken.
“There is hope for the oceans”
Delivering the keynote, Kathy Moran, former Deputy Director of Photography at National Geographic, said: “Despite the challenges of climate change, overfishing and plastic pollution, the one word that has been paramount is ‘amal or hope. There is hope when it comes to our oceans – always.
Citing recent actions that have inspired hope, Moran highlighted the support given to the UN by 100 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, to protect at least 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030, the tripling by Ecuador the size of its green reserves around the Galapagos Islands, and the announcement by the International Union for Conservation of Nature that several tuna species are no longer critically endangered.
Concerted actions taken by nations, including the UAE, have shown that marine protected areas can work, Moran said.