Beach destinations are among the most popular for summer vacations, and the Sultanate of Oman is known for its wealth of clean and attractive beaches, which are ranked as national and international favourites in the world of tourism.
Alas! The beaches -- one of our greatest natural resources -- are steadily becoming victims of unscrupulous activities, including litter such as throwing cigarette butts, food wrappers, and plastic bottles by beachgoers.
The trash ends up in our oceans each year, doing more than just ruining and destroying marine life and making people seriously sick!
Environmental efforts have been accorded priority as part of Oman Vision 2040, which outlines the need to sustain Oman’s natural resources in support of the national economy. As such, a number of government entities offer services for citizens who practise any activities related to the environment directly or indirectly.
The Sultanate of Oman considers littering on the beaches a very serious matter as this is one of the major causes of damage to the marine environment. Despite regulations and warnings, many of the beaches continue to be victims of the callous human approach!
Just days after the Environment Authority carried out a cleaning campaign for the beaches of Daymaniyat Islands Nature Reserve following spotting tens of thousands of detergent bags on the coastline, photographs of litter in Muscat’s popular Al Hail beach appeared in social medial platforms.
While the detergent packets were spread from Barka in the north to Qurayat in the south and all the way up to the Daymaniyat Islands, piles of garbage were seen on Al Hail beach in the Wilayat of Al Seeb.
“This reflects a lack of sense for preserving nature. Many people who visit the beaches throw the waste without giving thought to the impacts the litter makes. It is sad that they leave them for the municipal cleaning staff to remove them," said a tweet by Saud al Fahdi.
The Sultanate of Oman has a coastal line extending over 3,165 km, therefore, the country is interested in the so-called “Blue Economy”, which includes developing specific plans to conserve fish abundance, the sustainability of marine resources and cleanliness of sea water.
The Fourteenth goal of Oman’s Sustainable Development 2030 targets the sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Globally, more than one million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die from plastic pollution every year, and it is vital that the environment is protected to preserve all ocean life.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), every year, an estimated 11 million tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans. Approximately 300 million tonnes of plastic waste -- an amount equivalent to the weight of the human population -- are produced every year.
However, only nine per cent is recycled; the vast majority of the rest accumulates in landfills or the natural environment. Over time, these materials break down into microplastics that ease additional pollutants into the human food chain, freshwater systems and air.
In order to achieve the objectives of protecting the marine environment and the conservation of marine biological resources, the Oman government, as part of the 2030 Sustainable Goals, gives special importance to the implementation of studies, the establishment of marine conservation zones, the promulgation of legislation, the implementation of coastal zone management plans, the rehabilitation of degraded areas and the cultivation of mangroves in its various governorates.
In addition, entities like the Environment Authority and Environment Society of Oman, in cooperation with other voluntary bodies, conduct campaigns to clean the environment and control turtles and marine mammals, as they are important for the sustainability and balance of the marine environment.
The Oman government also realises the importance of environmental permits and their regulatory role. Waste disposal regulations have been issued in the marine environment, and dumping and discharge permits in the marine environment, in accordance with regulations, as used as a control mechanism for activities and projects on the coastal environment, as well as the dumping of solids into the marine environment.
The licensing process requires companies to submit periodic monitoring reports on the quality of discharged liquid waste and laboratory reports, including chemical analyses of solid materials that are dumped to ensure that they are free of contaminants and in compliance with the conditions set forth in the regulations governing these licences.