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14 Jan2022

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Introduction to conservation considerations in the Red Sea

Author: Nader Gebril

The environment is an all-inclusive concept, that is comprised of local fauna and flora, human communities, animate and inanimate objects, governing entities, and very recently stakeholders. When all comes into play, new buzzwords erupt into the scene, namely (sustainable development, sustainability, ecotourism/eco-friendly/eco-solutions/eco-anything, climate action, SDGs, climate change, social innovations, zero net, CSR…etc).

Although, the conceptual meanings behind those buzzwords may carry a lot of righteous messages and intents, yet like everything in life, the majority of those good-hearted-eco-friendly-politically-correct-gluten-free meanings get lost in the shuffle, which leaves us- environmentalists and naturalists- in a state of confusion. Addressing the elephant in the room-Conservation- is no run-of-the-mill matter, with the tiniest nuance in any local context could possibly present a 180 degree turn to the process of i.e., conserving a habitat, subduing that “One Solution for All” methodology ineffective.

Conservation has been used lately interchangeably with Environmental Protection and rightly so, the complex interrelationships between protecting an endangered species via proactive restoration and rehabilitation programs need an umbrella of a series of legal decision-making processes aimed at protecting the habitat and its contents.

Consequently, along those lines, Subjective analysis of the whereabouts of the conservation proceedings in the Red Sea will be mentioned in near future, tackling the rise of a new set of factors affecting the environmental protection efforts and the recourses management dilemmas currently facing the biosystem in Egypt’s Red Sea.

The tourism sector, Education, Eco-awareness, local communities’ trends and movements, stakeholders, governance and partnerships, and communication channels with concerning entities, are all key players that shape any conservation quest in the local context of the Red Sea. As self-organization takes place over the years amongst all those key players, leaves us with a “pros-and-cons system”. Therefore, deconstruction of these relationships and patterns will be provided throughout a series of blog posts addressing the former concepts.

 

Stay tuned !!

 
 

06 Jan2022

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What do you need to know about conscious traveling and Eco-tourism in the Red Sea?

Author: Nader Gebril

What do you need to know about conscious traveling and Eco-tourism in the Red Sea? 

 

The influx of people coming over to the Red Sea from all over the world to enjoy the unique biodiversity can be readily translated into tangible revenues for the country’s GDP as well as boosting the local economy of cities along the Egyptian Red Sea coast.

 Corals, charismatic marine species, sandy beaches and even an all-year-round warmer climate are simply biological and geographical attractants to the eco-tourism industry. As climate change, marine debris, ocean acidification and overfishing are all pushing both local and global biodiversity contents to the brink of the extinction, the only way to keep the ornamental values and the cultural heritage for the future generations and keeping the business-as-usual status when it comes to the sustainable aspects of the tourism industry is to adopt “Conscious Traveling”, Especially when it comes to European travelers; as the they make up 64% of the incoming tourists to Egypt, (according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics 2019 Census)  

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Since 1994, the Egyptian government has passed the Environmental Law, colloquially known as the By-Law amongst environmentalists and naturalists, as the biodiversity is an integral part to the national treasures and the livelihood of many communities rely on it directly and indirectly, which makes it only reasonable to pass laws and decrees to protect such riches. 

The condensed six pillars of the By-Law represent the perpetual misdemeanors inflicted by unconscious travelers enjoying Egypt’s Red Sea eco-destinations.

The BY LAW

 

Deconstruction of the By-Law pillars and the rationale behind them.

 

Do Not Throw Plastics

 

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Plastic is -unfortunately- here to stay, And the sea IS NOT the right place to throw plastics, simply because plastics can be divided into three types according to size, and all three of them end up harming the marine biosystem.






 

A)- Macro-plastics
Mostly, Plastic bags and bottles and ghost nets (>200 mm), they can possibly harm the marine wildlife either by ingestion leading to the inability to pass them out, thus killing animals by starvation or by hindering the ability to forage for food by entanglement in gill nets or plastic robes. Animals most affected can be sea turtles, marine mammals and whale sharks. 

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B)- Meso-plastic 

Whenever macro-plastic goes through degradation process via the tide and the sun’s UV-rays and large particles of plastic (5-200 mm) are produced, they can harm filter-feeding marine fish as well as seabirds foraging for small-sized pelagic fish. 

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C)- Microplastic

It is the smallest particle of the degradation process of the plastic and can not be seen via the naked eye. (5 mm- 1μ). They can disrupt the normal bodily function of animals like oysters via causing hormonal imbalance, thus producing fewer offspring, and finding its way in the food web via bioaccumulation and biomagnification, or directly finding its way to our table in sea salt.

 

Do Not Anchor in Undesignated Areas 

 

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Using the fragile corals or the Seabed filled with seagrass to anchor is damaging to the marine environment and after a while the corals will break or fragmentate. As for the seabed which is a nursery to many types of fish and sea creatures, it can be disrupted. So, to mitigate that HEPCA decided to establish a mooring system that makes it easy for boats to anchor easily without damaging the valuable marine habitats. 


 

Do Not Feed the Fish

 

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Feeding wildlife has always been problematic and the case of marine fish feeding is no exception, feeding wildlife can alter their behavior of food procurement as well as their health status especially when feeding human grade feed. A fish in a coral marine setting has never adapted to bakery and bread for instance.

 

Do Not Fish with Harpoon

 

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Being a lethal gun to fish as well as humans, the safety of the fisherman can be at stake. Usually, the gun propels the harpoon to the fish and possibly the coral reef- since the fishing takes place usually at the coral reef fish- thus, breaking the corals. Adding to the fact that the Red Sea is poor on fish stocks, fishing for mature reef fish limits the chances of spawning of fish species that have vital ecological roles in keeping the reef functional.   





 

Do Not Collect Shells, Live or Dead Corals

 

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Shells and dead corals can act as a host to marine fish to take refuge from predators as well as housing to some like Hermit crabs. Also, dead animals and animal parts share in the micronutrients balance of the marine ecosystem. Being an oligotrophic marine system meaning that there are little nutrients available for fauna to consume; thus, every possible opportunity to enrich the ecosystem is appreciated. 

 

Do Not Touch Corals 

 

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Fire coral may look so attractive to feel, yet as the name suggests they can sting very badly. So, for the safety of the diver/snorkeler, one should not touch the corals. Also, the fact that Corals rely on the algal communities that live on their surfaces so disrupting the surfaces by tactile intervention would mess with the nourishment of the corals, let alone introduction of unwanted microbes via one’s hands. 

 

02 Nov2021

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Citizen science approach for conservation in the Red sea

Author: Hepca

There’s always a question about where did we get our knowledge and so many philosophers exert much time in investigating this part. By applying many definitions to this question it’s answered by experience we can get knowledge and experiences are part of the 5 senses that could be combined to get us to absorb meanings and get this to be applied in many fields. This knowledge dilemma brought to the table of science that every one of us can be a scientist and contribute to the data collection about surroundings. 

 

Being a citizen scientist carries many benefits for the Red sea conservation initiatives as: 

  • Sharks project: for documenting sharks' geographical sites to build site conservation plans. 

  • Samadi Dolphin house: for recording a management plan for the dolphin’s site in Samadiand recording day-to-day basis the visitors count to better apply the plan of conservation and know the pattern of dolphin’s life in the site.  

  • Turtle watch: designed to document turtles' nesting sites and the anthropogenic impacts on turtles. 

  • Pollution spotting: Documenting sites of oil pollution, plastics, and any harassment violation in the wild. 

  • Stranding/ Mortality of mammals: locating any stranding/ mortality event for mammals megafauna all along the Red Sea coast. 

  • Bleach watch: for documenting coral reefs and the bleaching events that happened in the diving sites. 

 

For working as a citizen scientist now, one should start looking around for everything, know the basic taxonomy of animals, take photos, be involved in science communities, sound recordings, location detecting, etc. 

 

As there’s a lot that happened in the surrounding environment and this got us to start looking at the patterns and getting purposeful recommendations for conservation considerations in certain sites. 

 

HEPCA opens platforms for citizen scientists to engage more people in conservation and reporting violations, this way of engagement created the community-based monitoring for environmental resources and also connected a community for science and people who engaged in the activities for future conservation. 

 

If you would like to engage with us in any of the Red sea watch (citizen science), you can reach us out in the following channels.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HEPCA
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hepca_org/
LinkedIn: https://eg.linkedin.com/company/hepca 

 


 

29 Jun2021

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STOP Catch and release

Author: Mariam Elsadek

Can we use the catch and release as a sustainable way for recreational fisheries?

There’s a brand new trend for recreational fishing activities known as catch and release along the Red Sea coast and many promotional campaigns are aiding this part and support this action. As our main concern is conservation and caring for the Red sea, we raise a red flag to stop this action, As catch and release action will affect fishes in those terms:

- Increasing the chance of mortality

- Behavioral changes: fishes become more vulnerable to predation.

- Physiological changes: happened because fishes are coming into gears

This activity happened with some of the fishes that live in the Red sea especially the benthic ones as groupers, emperor fishes, and snappers. As when got on the catch status their air bladder will be affected due to the pressure difference and then they will lose the ability to swim and live normally again.

10 Apr2021

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Saving sea turtles!!

Author: Mariam Elsadek

On Abu Ramad, A man rescues any sea turtle that is stranded and finds it hard to come again to the coast. The reporter says that Qebary is regularly doing this action, which wasn’t the first time to do so. 

From our side, we would like to send applause to people who are taking any action to save our wildlife. 

Also, it would be great to highlight that we should carry out individual actions such as: 

  • reducing marine debris, 

  • participating in beach cleanups, 

  • using reusable bags and bottles, 

  • and keeping turtle nesting sites safe.

 

Finally, HEPCA encourages everyone to take good care of the Red sea and help us on the Red sea watch program to record violations and spot good actions that could help us apply for the community-based environmental monitoring programs in the long term. 

 

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