UAE Launches a National Plan for the Conservation of Marine Turtles

Bonn, March 2019 – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently launched a three-year National Action Plan for the Conservation of Marine Turtles (2019-2021). The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MoCCaE, unveiled the plan that aims at effectively protecting marine turtles in the country’s waters.  

The Arabian Gulf sustains a range of costal and marine ecosystems that provide habitat for marine turtles. Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbills (Eretmochelys imbricata) are most abundant within the Gulf, and loggerheads (Caretta caretta) dominate in the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Sea.

However, these ecosystems are under increasing pressure from human activities, associated with the rapid economic and industrial development in the Arabian Gulf countries. All species of marine turtles are classified as at least Vulnerable to Critically Endangered on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and it is necessary to address the threats they face to ensure the survival of these species.

The vision of the National Plan is to effectively conserve and sustainably manage the marine turtle populations and their habitats in the UAE. This will be achieved through reducing causes of turtles’ mortality and enhancing coordination and cooperation at all levels - national, regional and international. At the same time, the strategy seeks to raise public awareness and to encourage public participation in the envisaged conservation activities. The plan includes provisions for increased research and information exchange, as it is clear that better data is needed, for example, on accidental catch of marine turtles in fishing gear, incidents of poaching and trends and changes in turtle populations.

To enhance the protection of marine turtle habitats, the plan aims at designating and effectively managing Important Turtle Areas and IOSEA Network Sites. It also calls for the rehabilitation of habitats and individuals, as well as for developing training programs for marine turtle rescue and the standardization of protocols for data collection.

Identifying key stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities is crucial to target conservation measures effectively.

The English version of the National Plan is available here (

Last updated on 10 April 2019