Marine and Coastal Biodiversity
Syria is characterised by great geographical and climate diversity in terms of temperature, climatic conditions, geographical features and diverse plant communities. All of this had allowed for a relatively good diversity of ecosystems as well as plant and animal species to be observed in the country. This effect has extended relatively to include the coastal area of Syria, where the Syrian coast stretching for 183 km north-south shoreline with a relatively little bends and limited numbers of heads and bays in general.
The marine diversity (including all marine creatures) is one of the most important components of the aquatic environment, as this aquatic environment in Syria has special physical, chemical, and biological properties that affect the volume, size and composition of this diversity. In this respect, the sea in Syria is considered poor in marine diversity in general for several reasons, including: The Mediterranean is almost a closed sea, as it is only connected through the Strait of Gibraltar to the Atlantic Ocean and through the Suez Canal to the Red Sea. It has a negative balance, meaning that water loss caused by evaporation is greater than the amount received from rain and rivers. This is one of the important reasons for the high rate of salinity in the Syrian water, as it is the case in the eastern part of the Mediterranean, where the degree of salinity reached 40 ‰ which causes a reduction in the level of food available to fish in general. In addition, to arrival of warm and saline tolerant fish species from the Red Sea has caused a change in the composition of aquatic biodiversity in the region. In addition, the lack of wide bays on the Syrian coast and the absence of coastal lakes, which represent the best places for the growth and reproduction of a large number of fish and marine organisms has further contribute to this low richness in diversity. Moreover, the lack of water influx from rivers (which carry many nutrients from coastal plains) into the sea consequently, has added to this effect alongside the short extent of the Syrian coast let alone the narrow continental shelf in most areas of the Syrian coast.
In order to provide a safe area for various fish species and other marine creatures, establishing Coastal and Marine Protected Areas (MPA) in the Syrian coast is necessary from among the several Marine Areas of Interest: (MAoI) and the Important Marine Mammal Areas: (IMMA). Human activities are not permitted within such areas apart from targeted scientific research or well-managed Eco-tourism activities.
In order to protect the Marine Biodiversity, over-fishing and using unsustainable fishing practices such as the use of Dynamite and the Bottom-trawling as well as using poisoned baits and electrocution should be banned and monitored through the right update and enforcement to the Marine Protection Legislations. Furthermore, raising awareness among the fishermen and the local communities at the coastal areas about the sustainability of natural resources and the importance to adhere to the legislations that regulate the right use of these resources should be followed through appropriate channels and events where possible.