Qatar committed to protecting endangered species of turtles

Doha: The Ministry of Municipality and Environment said yesterday that Qatar is fully committed to implement its strategy of protecting endangered species.

The Department of Protection and Wildlife at the Ministry issued a statement on the occasion of World Turtle Day which falls on May 23. It said that the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it, has placed the Hawksbill turtles in the endangered species list since 1982.

The department added that it is putting a lot of effort, in cooperation with Qatar Petroleum, to protect the species. The department noted that the project to protect Hawksbill turtles began in 2003, and said that the 2019 season has already seen a completion of coordination between Qatar Petroleum (who finances the project) and Qatar University (who are implementing the project).

The first step was taken in April when Fuwairit Beach was closed and the public informed through different media outlets, in order to prepare for the nesting season. The first nesting was recorded on April 2, 2019 at Fuerit Beach of this season. The required measurements were made on the turtle and the eggs were shifted to safe place away from the tide of the sea.

The working team started after they had undergone training courses to implement the project. The project includes the cleaning of the beaches and the removal of plastic waste and cans that can hurdle in nesting of turtles in cooperation with General Cleanliness Department at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment.

A timetable has been made to ensure the presence of researchers and other team members round the clock while nesting turtles at the beaches of Ahoilah, Al Jassasiya, Al Maroona, Al Ghariya and Al Mifair. The turtle nesting process continued successfully reaching 66 nesting until May 20, 2019. The project for the protection of sea turtles of Hawksbill was launched in 2003 in Ras Laffan Industrial Area, and the seasons that followed 2009 closed the coast of Fuerit from April to August every year.

In 2010, Ministerial Decree No. 37 of 2010 on the protection of endangered species of turtles and seabirds.

As for the previous season which started on April 1, 2018, and ended on July 31, 2018.  In this season,  Ministry of Municipality and Environment  assigned a team from the Department of Protection and Wildlife for the first time since the launch of the project to implement the project.

The success rate of project to protect the nests reached over 80 where a total of 5,010 baby turtles were released to the sea, and recovered the soil of the shore at the site some of its natural characteristics by the protection process during the work months of the project.

The number of seabirds also increased significantly due to the project. The Ministry of Municipalities and the Environment intensified media campaign during the season of turtle nesting, to educate people about efforts made by the Ministry in this regard and to raise awareness of the need to avoid some practices and misconduct that may harm the marine environment.

During nesting season, clean-up campaigns for the beach and waste disposal are carried out, a team visits to schools and institutions to brief about the project.

The Ministry had appealed to citizens and residents who visit the beaches and northern islands (Fuwairit, Al Ghariyah, Al Huwailah, Al Mafjar, Umm Tiss Island, Rukan and Shrao’s Island) not to approach the turtle nesting areas, not to direct light at them and not to make any disturbing sounds nearby. The Ministry also called for immediate reporting of any violations by contacting environmental operations on 998.

Source: Peninsula