Earlier this month, the Supreme Council for Environment issued legislation declaring a new Marine Protected Area (MPA). The MPA, located to the north of Bahrain, encompasses three offshore oysterbeds and an adjacent coral reef within a protective buffer zone.
In 2012, the site of the northern oysterbeds – namely Najwat and Hayr Bul Thamah, Hayr Shtayyah, Hayr Bu Am’amah – were inscribed as part of Bahrain’s second UNESCO World Heritage Site entitled “Pearling, a testimony of an island economy”. Although already recognised as a site of international significance, it is now subject to further protection under national law, an important step towards securing the integrity of the site.
The legislation outlines the rules of conduct to be followed within the boundaries of the MPA. Activities including (but not limited to) pearl diving, fishing and dredging and reclamation are all regulated under the new laws with some activities requiring permits while others are now prohibited.