Towards Sustainable Management of Coastal and Offshore Islands in Arabian Gulf Typology: Sensitivity Analysis, Ecological Risk Assessment of Halul and Al-Alyia Islands
Giraldes, Bruno Welter
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The great majority of marine ecosystems in Qatar are in fast decline and nearing collapse, where most ecosystem has lost the biological and economic functionality. Aiming to support the decision makers in the management and restoration strategies for recovering the biological and economic functionality of the ecosystems/natural resources of Qatar, we conducted 1) a typology mapping of the main components of the ecosystem of two islands, 2) a sensitivity and vulnerability assessment according to the known guidelines and standards. Highlighting the potential ecological risk and required recommendations for sustainable management plans, within the frame of Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030). The Islands present different anthropogenic pressure. As expected, Al Alyia the coastal Island is under real risk, with critical areas of sensibility but still presenting a potential for recovering its economy and ecological functionality, highlighting the collapsed stage of the very sensitive coral reefs, the vulnerability of oyster beds and seagrass and the functionality of the mangrove (expanding) and Sabha with massive birds nesting. The offshore Island Halul presented in the typology mapping the coral reefs as the main ecosystem but with the presence of seagrass, algae bed, sandy beach, and Sabha. The coral reef still presents a certain functionality, with corals covering several hard substrates, however with high sensitivity and high vulnerability, especially the coral in the shallow areas with scattered colonies, and the vulnerable nesting of marine turtles on beaches. As the management, we recommend increasing the restoration effort of targeted ecosystems, mainly involving coral reefs for increasing the marine biodiversity in general and restoring the oyster beds for recovering the filtration service. Strategies must be made for recovering the ecosystems' functionality and restore the productivity of the Qatari fishing stock. We recommend applying this mapping method and sensitivity classification for all marine areas around Qatar for supporting the management plans.