The Environment Agency of Abu Dhabi (EAD) has announced that it is building the Middle East’s most advanced research vessel as part of the agency’s strong commitments to environmental conservation and marine biodiversity in Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s broader marine ecosystem.
The state-of-the-art, multipurpose marine conservation and fisheries vessel will perform specialized research using environmental-friendly technologies.
The 50-meter vessel, which will function in the UAE’s waters of the Arabian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and beyond, allows EAD to reach new marine and fisheries scientific waters to 10 meters and deeper. It will be developed and built for the region’s conditions, which include the Arabian Gulf’s shallow depth and high salinity.
“After the resounding success we have achieved with the dramatic improvement of fish stock numbers in Abu Dhabi waters, due to new policies and legislation, we are proud to be continuing our research on fisheries and all marine biodiversity to maintain the momentum of the significant work we have done so far. I am excited about the addition of a new multi-purpose research vessel to pioneer our oceanographic and fisheries research in our deeper waters.”
The vessel will be handled by up to 30 members and will contain five laboratories to process samples onboard, a remotely occupied vehicle, and SCUBA diving facilities, in addition to state-of-the-art research equipment.
It has the integrated functions to carry deep water marine ecological baseline surveys, fisheries resources assessment surveys, deep-water habitat surveys of coral and seagrasses, marine water and sediment quality surveys, and megafauna surveys of cetaceans such as dolphins, dugongs, and turtles.
It will also allow EAD to respond to threats to the marine environment, such as marine debris, climate change, and invasive marine species, as well as examine maritime sites and habitats from an environmental rehabilitation perspective and perform other marine studies.
The vessel will be built by FRIERE Shipyard in Vigo, Spain, with the Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding joining the EAD team with the project. The ship’s design began in January 2021, and it is expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi by December 2022. The first sea trial will take place in Vigo in late 2022, with Gulf condition trials following the ship’s transit to Abu Dhabi.