New push to protect marine heritage sites

A workshop on the selection of international and regional marine world heritage sites and marine protected areas opened yesterday.

The three-day event is being held under the patronage of Southern Governor and Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife president Shaikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa.

It is organised by the Culture and Information Ministry, Unesco and the commission, at Novotel Al Dana Resort Bahrain.

It has brought together International Union for Conservation of Nature-World Commission on Protected Area (IUCN-WCPA) marine co-ordinators from 18 regions, international experts, individuals and officials.

Unesco world heritage centre programme specialist Marc Patry, ministry’s natural heritage adviser Dr Saeed Al Khuzaie, commission’s environment and wildlife director general Dr Adel Al Zayani attended.

The World Heritage Marine Programme was launched by the World Heritage Committee in 2005, said Mr Patry.

“The aim was to safeguard marine natural heritage and use the World Heritage Convention to promote large-scale marine conservation, develop strategic partnerships and strengthen conservation capacity.

“More than 200 of the 878 heritage sites are listed for their natural values and 37 protected for their marine biodiversity values.

“Marine sites are considered an area of potential for future nominations of world heritage properties in the Arab region.

“A number of such initiatives are under discussion in the region.”

Workshop results are expected to accelerate the recognition of marine protected areas and related initiatives at global and regional levels.

A report on the workshop will be published and presented to the committee to assist in the future targeting of marine activities by Unesco and IUCN.