(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) The Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs (MECA) is planning to increase surveillance on divers and dive centres in Oman as part of a campaign to protect marine species and coral reefs.
Hilal Mohamed al Nabhani, head of the department, coastal zone management, MECA, said, ''The ministry is mulling to increase surveillance on divers and dive centres to protect marine species and the biodiversity of Oman's waters.
''Rules that are already in place to prohibit hunting will be strictly implemented. Walking and standing on coral reefs is prohibited by law. Divers and institutions found violating norms will be fined between RO200 and RO2,000. We have previously issued warnings to divers found disrupting marine life.''
The ministry is also planning to undertake a cleaning operation for coral reefs. ''Discarded fishing nets are the main cause of damage to coral reefs. The ministry is taking steps to curb this,'' Nabhani said.
Of late, the number of tourists seeking diving licences has been increasing. Last year, 227 licences were issued by the ministry in the tourism category. Tourism diving licences are issued as coupons, and are valid for a certain period. ''As many as 14 personal diving licences, which have to be renewed annually, were issued in 2012, and 20 licences were issued in the club and company categories. These too have to be renewed annually,'' Nabhani said.
When asked about the most sought-after diving destinations in Oman, he said the Musandam peninsula attracts a large number of divers.
''Besides this, other places of preference are Damaniyat Islands, Fahal Island, Mirbat in Dhofar governorate, Hallaniyat Islands and Masirah Island,'' Nabhani ad