Abu Dhabi: Ahead of the 51st National Day of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi has partnered with an ongoing project to encourage the sustainable farming of high-quality pearls in the waters of the emirate, and thus revive the traditional pearling industry in the United Arab Emirates.
The Abu Dhabi Pearls project is led by the emirate’s environmental sector regulator, Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) . The project is part of a wider collaboration between FAO and the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), which focuses on the introduction of sustainable aquaculture and the building a sector that creates jobs, protects the environment and supports long-term livelihoods.
In 2019, EAD launched the Sustainable Aquaculture Policy for Abu Dhabi, which aims to promote the growth of the emirate’s aquaculture sector and increase its competitiveness to alleviate pressures on overexploited local fisheries. FAO is a main partner of the project and supports and develops research related to aquaculture.
The Abu Dhabi Pearls Project was established in 2007 and has set itself the ambitious goal of cultivating around 80,000 oysters and producing around 20,000 sustainable, high-quality pearls per year in the waters of the emirate. Through this project, EAD seeks to provide a platform for education and awareness on sustainable oyster culture by organizing visits for school and university students, government agencies and institutions and foreign delegations.
Since its inception, the project has helped revive the area’s heritage and preserve local oysters and pearls through participation in local and international events. Joint projects with educational institutions have also been launched, as well as a technical component to create cultured pearl jewelry.
Pearl farming techniques
Within the framework of the existing cooperation between FAO and EAD, both parties seek to shed light on pearl farming techniques while promoting them as a key model for sustainable aquaculture that offers numerous environmental, social and economic benefits. . The partnership includes sharing knowledge, providing technical support and organizing technical workshops on aquaculture. The Agency and FAO are also working closely to highlight EAD’s efforts in pearl farming as a global example of successful and sustainable aquaculture.
Moreover, the EAD is a key partner of the FAO, thanks to its pioneering work in the areas of fisheries and aquaculture, which are key sectors for the UN organization. By bringing together global and local expertise, the partnership between EAD and FAO will help support and develop the aquaculture sector in the emirate.
By highlighting the expertise and achievements of the UAE in this area, EAD and FAO aim to strengthen the aquaculture sector and make it more energy efficient and sustainable and provide economic benefits for meet the needs associated with population growth. With technical support from FAO, the UAE is investing in modern technologies to develop a sustainable and economically viable aquaculture sector that will preserve the country’s fish stocks and improve its food security. It also combines the traditional cultural heritage of pearl fishing with modern techniques.
“This global partnership with FAO helps promote the Abu Dhabi Pearls project – one of the major aquaculture projects in the region. The Agency has found a way to revive Abu Dhabi’s pearl diving heritage through the application of modern and sustainable practices,” said Ahmed Al Hashemi, Executive Director of Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity at the EAD.
“Pearl fishing was once a risky profession that offered seasonal employment and an opportunity for wealth and prosperity. It was never simply a trade or a means of subsistence, but a fully integrated social system that nurtured a rich heritage of traditions. At EAD, we continuously seek to protect our national heritage while safeguarding the environment, and the development of sustainable practices within aquaculture is the driving force behind our efforts, supported by our fruitful cooperation with the FAO”, a- he added.
“The pearl oyster project designed and implemented by EAD not only provides a source of income for young Emirati entrepreneurs, but also contributes to conserving biodiversity and protecting the ecosystem, in line with the blue transformation objectives that FAO promotes. By partnering with EAD, FAO looks forward to developing sustainable aquaculture and contributing to UAE’s goal of becoming a global hub for innovation-driven food security by 2051 said Lionel Dabbadie, Senior Aquaculture and Fisheries Officer at the FAO Office in Abu Dhabi.
The Abu Dhabi Pearls project focuses on four main phases; the first phase aims to promote ecotourism within the emirate by showcasing the traditions and heritage of the United Arab Emirates, and the second phase includes the commercialization of products from the Abu Dhabi Pearls project.
The next phase of the project is to conduct scientific and practical experiments to further knowledge in the field of oyster farming, leading to higher production volumes and improved pearl quality. Finally, the fourth phase aims to raise awareness among younger generations about sustainable oyster farming, through organized visits for school and university students as well as participation in local and international events.