ABU DHABI - The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) announced that the most advanced research vessel in the region, Jaywun, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully completing the first phase of the Fisheries Resources Assessment Survey in the waters of the United Arab Emirates.

Moreover, the vessel also completed the first-ever comprehensive acoustic survey of the UAE’s waters. This ground-breaking two-week study was conducted in the Arabian Gulf and the Sea of Oman and used advanced technology to examine underwater ecosystems and assess the population and distribution of marine life.

The acoustic survey involves using sound waves to estimate the abundance and distribution of fish populations in the ocean.

Through analysis we can determine the size, density, and location of fish schools, helping to assess the health and status of fish stocks and helps us with sustainable fisheries management.

The vessel, manned by a team of EAD UAE nationals in collaboration with international experts, embarked on a remarkable 108-day sea voyage to conduct the survey, covering an impressive 324 sites across the UAE and gathering valuable data that will be used to evaluate and conserve the country’s marine resources. As part of the project nine UAE nationals were trained totalling 3,510 hours.

Over the course of the expedition, 1,500 samples were collected, enabling researchers to gain crucial insights into the region's fish species and their habitats.

Additionally, in collaboration with G42 and OceanX, the research team accomplished the first eDNA (environmental DNA) baseline and genomic sequencing of fish species in the UAE's waters. This innovative approach offers a deeper understanding of genetic diversity, allowing for more precise conservation and management strategies in the future.

Ahmed Al Hashmi, Executive Director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD, said: “The successful completion of the first phase of the Fisheries Resources Assessment Survey marks a significant milestone for the UAE's ongoing efforts to safeguard its marine environment. The invaluable data collected by the research vessel Jaywun and its dedicated team of UAE nationals will contribute to informed decision-making and sustainable management of the country's fisheries resources. We have worked very hard over the past few years to increase our fish stocks as this is vital for food security and the conservation of our fish species.”

He added: “This is the first time an acoustic survey has been conducted of all of the UAE’s waters and it will help us get a much clearer and accurate picture of marine life in the Arabian Gulf and Sea of Oman. We developed Jaywun for the purpose of marine water research and these are the first of several other research projects which will be conducted onboard the vessel.”

Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of EAD, the Agency commissioned Jaywun – the Middle East’s most advanced research vessel.

The 50-metre, state-of-the-art multipurpose marine conservation and fisheries vessel uses environment-friendly technologies to conduct specialised research in the Arabian Gulf – the world’s hottest sea and a natural climate change laboratory – as part of the UAE’s forward-looking science and innovation-based initiatives.

Jaywun is the most advanced research vessel in the region, with scientific equipment that includes: a remotely operated vehicle; trawling and trapping kit; seabed mapping and acoustics; CTD (conductivity, temperature, and depth sensing device); and scuba-diving facilities.

The vessel also houses six laboratories: a fisheries laboratory; an acoustic laboratory; a chemical analysis laboratory; a bio-physical laboratory; a wet laboratory and is also set up to operate an air quality laboratory.

With its high fuel efficiency and hydrodynamic performance that allows for less drag when sailing, Jaywun consumes less fuel and energy than other similarly sized vessels. It also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, which supports the UAE’s goals in addressing climate change.

The Agency has various research campaigns planned. These include: oceanic fisheries blue carbon assessments; climate change research; deep water habitat mapping and surveys (coral and seagrass); deep water megafauna surveys – including cetaceans, dugong, turtle, whale sharks – as well as invasive marine species surveys; marine water quality; air quality; plastics; and underwater heritage – which includes shipwrecks and pearl diving beds.

In addition, Jaywun will be supporting the UAE’s climate-neutrality-by-2050 goal by conducting research into oceanic blue carbon, a globally important initiative. Oceanic blue carbon includes the carbon stored through the actions of marine life, from krill to fish, sea turtles, and marine mammals. Understanding how marine vertebrates contribute towards carbon storage helps to recognise their potential role in climate change mitigation.