Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources

Sustainability as a national priority

Providing sustainable environment and infrastructure is one of the six pillars of the UAE National Agenda. Read about the UAE’s contributions in the field of environment in the UAE.


Marine reserves

In 2014, the United Arab Emirates ranked 1st in the marine reserves index, compared to 33rd in 2012. This reflects the UAE’s efforts in the preservation of ecosystems.


Marwah Reserve was erected on an area of 4255 sq m in Abu Dhabi and declared on 2007, while al Yasat Reserve was declared on 2005.


Other reserves are Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary and Jebel Ali Wildlife Sanctuary.


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Sea dumping

Dumping waste in the sea raises environmental concerns which is life-threatening on the marine ecosystem in the region.


The UAE has enacted laws banning throwing waste and oil sludge into the water by the hundreds of tankers operating in the region.


The UAE Federal Law No. 24 of 1999 on the Protection and Development of the Environment prohibits the following:

  • Any intentional disposal of pollutants or wastes from ships, aircraft or any other means into the marine environment
  • Any deliberate dumping from ships or industrial installations or other means into the marine environment.


In addition, Federal Law No. 23 of 1999 and its Ministerial Decree No. 302 of 2001 were issued to address exploitation, conservation and development of living aquatic resources in the UAE.


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Fishing is a key component of the UAE’s heritage, but overfishing has caused a decline of key fish stocks beyond sustainable levels.


At least 13 species of fish have been harvested beyond sustainable levels and key species of fish like hamour (orange-spotted grouper), shaari (spangled emperor), farsh (painted sweetlips) and kanaad (Spanish mackerel) have been overexploited up to five times the sustainable limit.


The UAE Government efforts to preserve fisheries

In 1999, the Federal Law No.23 of was issued concerning the exploitation, protection and development of the living aquatic resources in the waters of the state of the United Arab Emirates.


Ministry of Climate Change and Environment launched the UAE Sustainable Fisheries programme to ensure sustainable fishing, which will be implemented from 2016 to 2018. Under this programme, advanced research and monitoring of UAE fisheries will be undertaken, new legislation developed and implemented, and traditional fishing knowledge gathered to better inform decision making.


In addition, the ministry has issued Ministerial Decree No.471 for the year 2016 on regulating surface fishing using beach seines. The resolution reflects the ministry’s aim to regulate professional fishing to preserve, develop and ensure the sustainability of fish stocks, and enhance food security by protecting fish stocks from depletion.


The decree standardised the specifications of the seines that should be used during the hunt. It also specified the open season for surface fishing to be from October 1 to June 30 of the following year, to avoid depletion of fish as they are an important and dependable source of nourishment.

Achievement Progress


Coverage of protected areas in relation to marine areas