Ministry of Climate Change and Environment to roll out virtual Shark Week

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Mohamed Nass - - The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MoCCAE, will launch this year’s Shark Week virtually in collaboration with the International Fund for Animal Welfare, IFAW, and Atlantis, The Palm from 17th to 23rd July, 2020.

Taif Al Amiri, Director of Government Communication at MoCCAE, said, "We address this critical issue through an integrated legislative framework, coupled with initiatives and programmes targeting the community. As such awareness drives are vital to engaging all segments of society in environmental protection, we decided to roll out this year’s edition of Shark Week through online workshops and webinars in line with the precautionary measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic."

She added, "Acknowledging the need to protect sharks, particularly endangered species, MoCCAE developed the National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks 2018-2021 that presents concrete steps to enhance shark sustainability in the UAE. We have also issued resolutions that regulate their fishing and trade."

Kelly Timmins, Director of Conservation, Education, and CSR at Atlantis Dubai, said, "With animal welfare as our top priority, we will continue to work with local authorities on shark and ray breeding and release programmes. We believe in the power of education, and have therefore created a series of online activities, in addition to our immersive shark diving and behind-the-scenes experiences."

Dr. Elsayed Mohamed, MENA Regional Director at IFAW, said, "As the world realises the importance of protecting many of the shark species which have now become endangered, it is crucial to focus on the implementation of the shark conservation measures adopted by international agreements such as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES and the Convention on Migratory Species, CMS, and enforce the national law, especially in countries where shark exploitation occurs the most."

Shark Week will feature two workshops presented by biodiversity and fisheries experts from MoCCAE, IFAW, Atlantis, The Palm, and Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD.

The events will be accessible to the public, particularly targeting Ministry-licenced fishermen and recreational fishermen. The sessions will cover various topics, including an introduction to international conventions protecting sharks, facts about sharks, shark-related legislation in the UAE, global trends in shark fin trade, identification of protected sharks listed in CITES and UAE legislation, and safe handling and release of sharks and rays.

MoCCAE and its partners will host a youth webinar to educate the new generation about the importance of sharks and rays, the local and global challenges they face, and measures taken by the UAE to protect them.

The highlight of the week will be the interactive competition Caring for Animals, to be launched on July 17th in collaboration with Dubai Municipality and Atlantis, The Palm. The contest will invite youngsters to share one-minute videos showing how they care for animals at home or in their community. Participants can send their entries to [email protected], and winners will be announced on 31st July.

Atlantis, The Palm will livestream underwater shark and ray feeding sessions as well as episodes about the resort’s shark breeding and release programmes. It will also host a special shark art workshop with the renowned artist Emma Skinner, and issue a downloadable shark-themed activity booklet for children.

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