Eco-Environmental Consultants – Eco Campaigns: Um Al-Namel Island

Concise history of the area

The Portuguese dominated the Arabian Gulf during the sixteenth century. They realized the strategic importance of Kuwait and built a small fort on a small Island in Kuwait Bay. The Island has two names. An old one known as Al-Qurain and a contemporary one, the small Island of Al-Shuwaikh. A near by Island, north west of the Al-Qurain Island, exists and it is known as Umm Al-Namel Island. The early settlers who settled in Kuwait traveled around Kuwait Bay and finally settled around its southern part. The population grew from 10,000 as recorded by the Danish navigator Carsten Nie Buhr in 1765 to 2,142,600 in 1990.

Umm Al-Namel Island, translated in Arabic as the mother of ant Island, is situated within Kuwait Bay. The bay is a semi-closed and relatively shallow body of water located in the northern part of the state of Kuwait. It has a maximum length of 45 km and is 22 km wide at its entrance. The bay is ecologically and commercially important. It contains diverse habitats such as sandy, muddy, rocky and oyster bank reefs. On these habitats a wide range of marine organisms exists such as interidal macrofauna e.g. mollusks, bivalves, crabs and worms. Its sub-tidal areas contain shrimps and fishes. A community of marine birds, migratory and settlers feeds on the intertidal flat’s macrofauna. The bay houses another ex-Island, Al-Qurain Island or the small Island of Al-Shuwaikh. The Island was attached to Shuwaikh port during its extension and does not exist any more. The bay, also, houses two small bays known as Sulaibihkat and Khadma bays. The bay is under continues stress due to pollution such as land reclamation and sewage discharge.

Geomorphology of the area

Kuwait bay can be divided into two geomorphologic areas. The first is the northern area. It is characterized by flat bottom topography and an intertidal flat covered mainly by muddy sediments. This area extends from Ras Al-Subiya to Sulaibikhat. The second is the southern area. It extends from Shuwaikh harbour to Ras Al-Ard in Salmiya. It is characterized by a steep and narrow intertidal zone covered mainly by sandy deposits. Umm Al-Namel Island has mainly two types of coasts, sandy and rocky. The whole cost of the Island is sandy. However, it becomes rocky at the end part of its southern coast and continues till reaching the middle of the Island’s northern part. The Beach rocks are of two types in term of colour. The first are black whilst the second are grey to white in colour. These rocks are mainly layers of sediments lithified by calcareous cement and underlain by unconsolidated sand reef from oyster bank of the bivalve Saccostrea cucculata. The beach rocks discontinue in the middle of the northern part of the Island and become sandy again. The whole southern intertidal flat of the Island is mainly covered by the bivalve S. cucculata. However, other intertidal flats around the Island are mainly muddy and are inhabited by different types of bivalves such as Solen vagina, and a mollusk known as Cerithdea cingulata, mud skippers and crabs. Several “Hadras” exist. These are fish traps licensed by the government and built by fishermen. Also, several chalets were erected on the Island by the fishermen. Domestic animals such as pigeons, chicken, goats and lambs, are brought and raised on the Island by the these fishermen. Several unlicensed chalets, demolished by Kuwait Municipality, can be seen on different parts of the Island.

Why is the campaign?

The campaign is carried-out to clean Umm Al-Namel Island from waste being dumped in the Island from various sources. For example, fishing lines and nets, robes, plastic oil containers, wood boards, barrels, tyres, radio batteries, foods refuse, scraped cars, water tanks and Iraqi left over non-military waste can be seen on the Island’s coast. The origin of such waste is mainly from the following sources:

Waste from the near by fishing village of Al-Doha where thousand of fishermen utilize the area as a harbour and residence. Part of the village waste is thrown to the sea. Water movement tends to transport the waste mainly to the southern part of the Island.

Waste from fishermen who fish in the near by waters. They tend to through their waste into the sea and then it is washed a way to the shores of the Island.

Waste from fishermen who are settled in the Island and tend to through their waste on the shores of the Island.

Waste from irresponsible people towing, for fun, scrap cars into the Island and then leaves them.

The main objective of the campaign is to remove as much waste as possible from the Island. About 200 Kuwaiti and non Kuwaiti volunteers are needed to achieve the objective of the campaign.

The plan of work

Umm Al-Namel Island can be crossed through walking or by cars, at low tide, from Ras Usahrij coast at Al-Doha area. The intertidal flat environment, the area between the low and high tide levels, is dominant in the bivalve Saccostrea cucculata. The area will be crossed through a predetermined path to prevent any damages to the habitat and the marine organisms living on these habitats. The Island will be divided into 5 parts. Northern, southern eastern and western and central sections. Each section will be assigned to remove the light waste that extensively can be found such as empty plastic cans and bottles, robes, nets and wood panels. If heavy machinery will be available, heavy waste like scraped cars and water tanks will be removed. Each group will be headed by a volunteer who knows the area. He will carry a mobile phone to have a contact with other groups. Waste will be collected and deposited in refuse bags and will be carried to a collection site.

Who organized this campaign

The first campaign was organized in November 1998 jointly between Ali Muhammad Khuraibet, Mr. Ala Eldein Al. Ali NAUI representative in the Middle East. The second campaign was organized in April 2000 by NAUI Middle East for the protection of the Marine Environment. The members of this committee are:
Dr. Ali Muhammad Khuraibet, Eco.
Mr. Ala Eldein A. Ali, NAUI and Al-Boom Marine Company.
Mr. Shaker Al-Hazzem, Eco.
Mr. Ahmad Al-Hazzem, Ministry of Health.
Mr. Fahad Al-Sumait and Miss Muntaha Al-Bagdadi, Equate Petrochemical Company.

The campaign was fully supported by Al-Wataniya Telecommunication Company and about 250 participants participated in the second campaign.

Who can join and requirements

Any adult male or female Kuwaiti or non Kuwait over 16 years old is welcomed to join the campaign under the condition that all will be committed to clean the Island. Please bring the following:
Heavy duty boot that will stand moving on sand and the bivalve S. Cucculatta because it has sharp edges.
Heavy duty gloves to prevent any hand injury while removing waste.
Heavy duty waste bags. The organizers have a limited supply.
Your own food and water.

The advantages in joining the campaign

Participants will receive an authentic certificate of appreciation from the organizing committee and from the National Association of Under water Instructors (NAUI) signed by their middle east representative.

Caring for the environment. The environment around the world should be every concerned citizen case, in order to sustain natural resources and their use for present and future generations.

Having the chance to see the Island and know its habitat and the marine organisms that live on its intertidal flat.

This piece is taken from the website of Eco-Environmental Consultants.

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