Subject: Environment-Gulf: Oil spill th (fwd)

Mike Williamson (
Wed, 14 Jan 1998 14:39:59 -0500 (EST)

                      J. Michael Williamson
Principal Investigator-WhaleNet <>
                   Associate Professor-Science
  Wheelock College, 200 The Riverway, Boston, MA 02215
             voice: 617.734.5200, ext. 256
            fax:    617.734.8666, or 978.468.0073

"Follow in my wake, you've not that much at stake,
For I have plowed the seas, and smoothed the troubled waters"
                        Jimmy Buffett

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 13 Jan 98 13:01:00 GMT 
Subject: Environment-Gulf: Oil spill th

Environment-Gulf: Oil spill threatens Persian Gulf ...

  ABU DHABI, (Jan. 9) IPS - Officials in a northern area of the
United Arab Emirates (UAE) have called upon federal authorities to
help them break up a huge oil slick that is spreading from a
crippled barge in the Gulf.
   The accident yesterday involves a barge laden with crude oil from
Iran that was being towed by a Dubai- registered tug boat. The
11,000 ton barge is sinking some eight kilometers off the UAE's
northern coastline.
   Some 4,000 tons of leaking crude oil has polluted the sea along
the emirate of Ajman, posing a threat to its water supply. The Gulf
region has scarce fresh water sources and depends on desalination
plants that purify uncontaminated sea water into drinking water.
   The oil slick also threatens the region's rich marine life, but
the extent of the damage has not been estimated.
   "It is the largest oil slick we have ever seen on our beaches --
the crude oil is already some 4 cms thick," said Ahmed Ali Rabia,
director of Ras Al Khaimah municipality.
   The Ajman desalination plant was shut down as a "precautionary"
measure and authorities there have ordered tests of water samples
to be conducted. The spill has affected the fishermen's jetty in
Ajman and the fish farms in the area.
   An official at the Marine Resources Research Center (MRCC) told
UAE dailies that if the crude oil spilled into the tunnel
connecting the center with the sea, it would definitely affect the
fish culture mechanism and other systems.
   A UAE environmentalist told IPS that skimming vessels and oil booms
have been requested from the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company
(ADNOC), which has a long experience in fighting pollution in the
Persian Gulf.
   Many fishermen complained that crude oil has badly damaged their
boat engines, and the pollution has ruined their chances of
catching fish.
   "Our fishing nets are ruined, but more worrying is the possibility
that the oil spill has killed the fish in Gulf waters," said Ali
Issa Rahsid, an Emirati fisherman. He is concerned that his
business has been irreversibly damaged.
   The oil slick was also bad news for many tourists staying in the
northern Emirates who come to swim in the clean waters.
   The Gulf s waters are home to diverse range of marine and bird
including five types of turtles, dugongs and dolphins.
   Ibrahim al Mualla of the Amoco Sharjah Oil company said marine life
would be threatened in the whole region unless urgent measures were
   Oil spills are a recurring nightmare in the Gulf, the world's
busiest oil channel. In July 1997, a diesel-carrying barge ran
aground and spilled more than 5,000 tons of diesel off the UAE
emirate of Sharjah, contaminating the local water supply. That
barge was also suspected to have come from Iran.
   The UAE's worst oil spill was in 1994 when two supertankers
collided off the coast of Fujairah, resulting in the leakage of
some 16,000 tons of crude.
   Experts had to be called in from Canada and the United States to
control the spill, which forced the evacuation of people living
off the coast in Fujairah. Nesting birds and thousands of fish
perished in the accident.
   Marine experts say oil pollution and the deterioration of the
mangrove and seagrass ecosystems in the Gulf have depleted fish
   A recent workshop on coastal zone management, which was organized
by the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency and
the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), introduced a major
research program for marine life conservation in the coastal waters
of the UAE.
   The UAE coastal zone is very important to the Gulf as an ecosystem
as it extends over 1,448 kms along the Gulf, the Arabian Sea and
the 130-200 islands lying off the coast.
   The islands are important nesting grounds for birds migrating to
warmer, tropical destinations in Africa from cold areas in the