The ROPME Sea Area is endowed with valuable natural resources and a great biodiversity of plant and animal species.
The wetlands, waterfowl, mangroves, fish, marine mammals, turtles, corals and other forms of life are treasures of the region. Its dugong population is second in global importance only to Australia's.
There are some twenty species of dolphin and whale, all the five subtropical species of turtles, and more than a thousand species of fish, most of which, are endemic and have a high commercial value. The impacts of land-based activities on the coastal waters are significant.
- The municipal sewage and industrial effluents from such industries as petroleum refineries, power, desalination and petrochemical plants are major contributors to pollution loads.
- Dredging and reclamation activities are also a permanent feature in many coastal areas with tremendous damaging effects on the marine environment.
Operational and accidental oil pollution is another major challenge in the region. The impacts on the marine environment by offshore oil installations, particularly water, are enormous.
- The operational pollution from ships and dumping of ballast water are also among the main causes of chronic oil pollution in the region.
| In April 1978, the eight Governments of the Region adopted the Kuwait Convention and Action Plan, making us one of the first Regional Seas.
The Plan mainly covers programme activities relating to oil pollution, industrial wastes, sewage and marine resources. Projects range over coastal area management, fisheries, public health, land-based activities, sea-based pollution, biodiversity, oceanography, marine emergencies, GIS and remote sensing, environmental awareness and capacity building.
Milestones include the creation in 1979 of the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME), the establishment in 1982 of the Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (MEMAC), and the adoption of four protocols addressing marine emergencies, hazardous wastes, land-based activities and sea-based pollution.
The Kuwait Convention and its protocols have made a substantial positive impact towards the protection of the marine environment and coastal areas from pollution. However, the region is still faced with major environmental challenges.