The MSS has been conducting a continuous monitoring program of the different components of the coastal ecosystem in front of the Industrial Complex of the Jordanian Mines Company since 1996. The monitoring program involves seawater, bottom sediments, benthic community and fish. Seawater is collected monthly from six locations and analyzed for nutrients, dissolved oxygen, pH, alkalinity, chlorophyll a and salinity, in addition to the basic physical characteristics temperature and transparency. Bottom sediments are also collected from six sites and analyzed for grain size, chemical composition, organic carbon, phosphorus and nitrogen, in addition to heavy metals and hydrocarbons. Benthic and fish community are monitored once a year at six stations by visual census. Descriptions are given of density, diversity, distribution as well as site-to-site and year-to-year variations. Outputs of the project are 12 monthly reports and one annual report every year. At the early stages of the project semiannual reports were produced as well. The data, reports and expertise that accumulated at the MSS during the course of implementing this program forms a good foundation for any monitoring and assessment program of the marine environment on the Jordanian coast of the Gulf of Aqaba.
The city of Aqaba has experienced a series of local administration systems. With the continuous progress of the local administration, was a continuous progress in giving more attention to the environmental dimension. During the preparatory stages for the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA), the Marine Science Station (MSS) in collaboration with the Aqaba Region Authority established a monitoring program of the basic components of the marine ecosystem; water, sediment, benthic community and fish, along the entire Jordanian coast. The MSS was responsible for designing the monitoring program, writing the proposal that won the project and has been responsible for implementing it.
Higher weight was given to the monitoring program after the establishment of ASEZA. This is because the tendency in ASEZA is to build their coastal management policy on scientific findings. Also the findings of the monitoring program serve the purpose of putting the regulations for investment and exploitation of the marine environment.
The activities of the monitoring program involve monthly collection and analysis of water samples from ten coastal locations and one offshore location that serves as a reference. Water samples are analyzed for nutrients, chlorophyll a, pH, alkalinity, dissolved oxygen, Irradiance, transparency, temperature and salinity. In addition the program involves bottom sediment monitoring and visual census of the benthic and fish community at eight sites along the Jordanian coast of the Gulf. Outputs of the monitoring program are 12 monthly reports as well as one semiannual and one annual report.
An innovative governing system is being established in Aqaba. In February 2000 the city has been declared as a Special Economic Zone, governed by a highly autonomous authority. The main objectives of the new authority are to develop Aqaba Subsequent to the establishment of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone (ASEZ) as a haven for commerce, a destination for tourism, and an incubator for technology. The expected pressure of coastal development on the coastal environment created a strong motivation to conducting detailed studies to better understand the coral reef ecosystem functioning and assess its capacity to accommodate coastal constructions and developments. At this stage of political and environmental awareness maturity, the need was identified for an environmental program that covers the entire northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba rather than just the Jordanian coast. Two scientific institutions, the MSS from Aqaba and the IUI from Elat, associated with two government agencies ASEZA from Aqaba and the Nature and Marine Park Authority from Elat have applied jointly in the framework of the Marine Peace Pack for a research, monitoring, management and outreach program, to be managed by the two government agencies and implemented by the scientific institutions. The RSMPP project ended in December 2002 and achieved its objectives..In continuation to the RSMPP the fast track project is initiated in 2004 with financial support from USAID. The project focuses on: upgrading of infrastructures established in the RSMPP (databases, mapping and GIS, water circulation models) aiming at transforming them to more powerful (jointly managed) monitoring,research and managing tools; developing the application of new monitoring techniques (remote sensing, particulate organic matter, genotoxicity and cell abnormalities); developing new approaches for early monitoring, assessing status of marine habitats and conservation measures (zooplankton, fish nursery sites).
Dangerous marine organisms stings, including injuries by stingrays, are not uncommon in coastal and lakeside regions of the world. Although the majority of cases are minor, there is the potential for more severe injuries, particularly with stonefish and stingray envenomations. There are surprisingly few series of venomous fish stings in the world literature, despite the relative commonness of these injuries.
Marine animal injuries in Jordan are restricted to the southern part of the country that is in the Gulf of Aqaba. It is a seasonal problem, usually in the summer months. Penetrating wounds, stings and inoculation of venom are common marine animal injuries to unwary walkers during the summer season. According to national reports, when many families would visit the Gulf of Aqaba to spend their summer holidays, it was observed that 72% of patients were visitors rather than locals.
It is obvious that dangerous marine organisms could represent a potential health risk in one the only access by sea to Jordan. Prevention of such possible risks in human is of great importance. To date, however, there is no effective treatment of acute injury induced by venomous fish stings. However, studies of this subject are rather limited. Therefore, understanding the distribution of dangerous marine organisms, their habitat and ecotoxicity along the Jordanian coast of the Gulf of Aqaba is beneficial and critical to plan new strategies in order to reduce its effects.
The intensification of maritime traffic, both in terms of goods and passengers, needs to be accompanied by an environmentally sustainable management of port areas so to reduce harmful consequences for local populations.
MESP addresses the reduction of water, air and noise pollution deriving from port activities through the implementation of a multidisciplinary approach, which encompasses technological, regulatory and administrative solutions. The reinforcement of cooperation between port authorities, scientific organisations and public administrations will foster the diffusion and transfer in the Mediterranean area of sustainable management model of port areas developed by MESP project.
The general objective of MESP project is to guarantee the sustainability of port activities and an high level of life quality in the nearby areas. The environment will be taken into consideration under three main sectors strongly characterizing ports areas: water, noise and air. The project is in the light of the growing needs to protect the population and the natural environment from the exposure to such kind of pollution sources. Ports represent today the main door of access to enter Europe and/or Middle-East territories and the strengthening of the motorway of the sea strategy by the EU brings to consider them not only as the main commercial platform, but also the main communication hub of the near future. In this sense, ports areas and authorities have to manage a situation more and more critical from the point of view of traffic fluxes both in the sea and on the land. Besides, the increasing of commercial traffics induce to a consequent implementation of land processing on goods while the increase of people traffics brings to several problems concerning with the “parking” of big cruise boats. In particular, thanks to the analysis of the “status quo” of today ports condition, both in the Northern and Southern part of the Mediterranean basin, and thanks to an important research activity that will be carried out, MESP aims to reach the identification of best practice and procedures which can help the management authorities and the users of the port areas and infrastructures to reach an higher level of sustainability and to decrease the pollution level for what concern water, air and noise. The project aims also to create the reproducibility of best practices and procedures easily applicable in both part of the Mediterranean Sea.
Jordan ranks as one of the world’s five poorest countries in terms of water resources. To overcome this
issue Jordan has adopted alternatives to maximize the use of water, such as the building of King Talal
dam (KTD). Providing a storage capacity of 86 MCM of water used for agricultural irrigation and
generation of electric power. The last decades pollutants flow towards the dam water increased, adding
organic material necessary for the growth of cyanobacteria (Algae) blooms in water, reducing water
quality and negatively impacting agricultural and aquaculture activities depending on the dam’s water.
Leading to ecological, economical and public health concerns. Some of the blooming cyanobacteria
produce toxins, causing harm to aquatic and terrestrial animals, including humans, posing serious health
concerns. Finding solutions for such health and economic risks are national priorities. To our
knowledge, there are no ecologically effective procedures mitigating toxin production, nor studies on
cyanobacterial toxic effect on fresh-water fishes in Jordan. This study focuses on isolating toxinproducing
cyanobacteria, identification of cyanobacterial toxins using molecular techniques, and studying oxidative stress effect of the toxins on commercially important fish species growing in KTD.
Increasing our understanding of the cyanobacterial-fish interaction, and suggesting potential methods
for improving water quality.