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Northwest Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman
Wilson, S.C. (2000). Northwest Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. pp. 17-33
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 920 pp., more

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  • Wilson, S.C.

    The four countries bordering this region are Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Iran, which together comprise 2800 km of coastline. In the Arabian Sea, the Indian monsoon is the single greatest factor shaping the marine environment. The Southwest Monsoon blows for four summer months, inducing coastal and oceanic upwelling that lowers seawater temperatures by 10°C and greatly increases marine productivity. A northeast wind then blows during winter months, which reverses surface circulation. The resulting variable and productive marine ecosystem is semi-isolated by oIigotrophic waters more typical of tropical areas. The most diverse coastal habitats include coral communities, mangroves, seagrass beds, coastal lagoons, and seaweed beds, the latter only developing on the Arabian Sea coasts during the Southwest Monsoon. The region also contains the world's largest concentration of Loggerhead Turtles and large numbers of Green Turtles. However, despite these valuable resources, there are few protected areas, and management is only partially effective. The human population remains low but is growing at 3.5% per year. While national economies have benefited from oil reserves, most coastal and rural areas stilI depend on agriculture and fishing, and these sectors, particularly fishing, will absorb much of the new labour force in coming years. Current impacts to the environment from rural activities are greater than industrial or urban impacts. Serious consequences arise from the widespread use of giIlnets which are causing long- term damage to turtle and cetacean populations and coral areas. Overgrazing in some areas and overfishing of some high-value fish stocks are growing issues, and industrial fishing has led to conflicts with artisanal fishers and environmental damage. Coastal erosion is of growing concern, particularly in the Gulf of Oman, and large areas of low-lying coastal sabkha in central Oman are at risk from rising sea levels. Chronic contamination of beaches results from routine oil tanker operations and continues to worsen, while the impact from industry, though stilI relatively small, is increasing as nations diversify their economies. International and national environmental legislation are in place across much of the region but resources and capability for their enforcement is generally lacking.

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