Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has signed a agreement with OceanX, M42 and Bayanat to partner on a marine research initiative to further understand environmental conservation parameters.

The agreement was signed to facilitate the use of best practice marine research technologies on board EAD’s vessel Jaywun and OceanX’s vessel OceanXplorer to support marine exploration with a focus on fisheries and biodiversity data. Various entities from the Abu Dhabi Environmental Research Network (ADERN) community will also work on board and play a role in gathering and analysing the data.

As part of the agreement, which aligns with the UAE Year of Sustainability goals and the Abu Dhabi Climate Change Strategy, EAD will provide marine research vessel technologies and workflows of mutual benefit, especially with regards to mapping marine and fisheries resources. M42 will support with genome sequencing and DNA analysis of marine species as well as organic and inorganic chemistry research, imaging and artificial intelligence.

OceanX will partner with EAD on a joint research mission to be conducted during COP28 UAE that will leverage both Jaywun and OceanXplorer, with Bayanat assisting the project via its AI-powered surveying and mapping expertise. During the mission, OceanX will enhance traditional approaches to fishery assessments by testing advanced methods developed with EAD and M42, leveraging genomic technology like eDNA sampling.

M42’s advanced AI will enable real-time ocean data analysis, species identification and habitat mapping, while making valuable inferences about ecosystem health and biodiversity to support future research and conservation efforts. The goal is to create tools that are both cost-effective and reduce the environmental impact of fisheries assessments. Combining eDNA and AI analysis can create a new, minimally invasive, high-resolution data collection method to support conservation planning, accurate stock assessment, and understanding of the changing conditions that affect marine species.

Her Excellency Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of EAD, said: “We are very pleased to sign this important MoU with our local, regional and global partners. The agreement will provide a range of benefits to the UAE’s wider environmental community, including biodiversity conversation, ecosystem management, climate change resilience, fisheries management, pollution monitoring and sustainable coastal development.

“By generating data, knowledge and evidence, this research will also contribute to informed decision-making and policy formulation, as well as the sustainable use and protection of the UAE’s water resources and marine ecosystems.

“This MoU with established partners such as OceanX, M42 and Bayanat will help us better understand the marine ecosystem of Abu Dhabi emirate. It will also allow to and regulate and enforce Abu Dhabi’s environmental laws to protect biodiversity and preserve the quality of marine life, providing a more sustainable future for all.”

Ahmed Al Hashmi, Executive Director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD, said: “The agreement will also prove invaluable from a human talent development perspective. With OceanX as a partner, local scientific researchers will get the opportunity to learn first-hand how to operate and use the complex, high-end equipment on board.

“These vessels are essential platforms that enable scientist to access marine environments, collect data, undertake multidisciplinary research, while supporting long-term monitoring efforts, the collation of samples, new technology development as well as education and outreach activities.”

Vincent Pieribone, Co-CEO and Chief Science Officer at OceanX, said: “OceanX strives to discover the wonders of the world’s oceans through in-depth scientific research, media and education. To do this, our team collaborates with an incredibly talented network of international partners and collaborators. This multilateral partnership is a testament to the importance of international cooperation and will provide generational benefits to the UAE and the region’s wider environmental community.”

Hasan Jasem Al Nowais, Managing Director and Group CEO of M42, said: “M42’s mission is to reshape the future of health in a sustainable manner, with technology as a key enabler. The health of our planet, and in particular our oceans, plays a big part in human health. M42 is proud to contribute to the advancement of marine research and environmental conservation.

“By harnessing the power of innovation and technology, we aim to further research for the good of our planet and respond to its most critical challenges. This initiative combines Ocean X and EAD's cutting-edge marine research vessel technologies with the expertise of M42, in genomic sequencing, DNA analysis, chemistry research, imaging, and AI to protect biodiversity, promote ecosystem resilience, and address the pressing issue of climate change. Global health is our concern and we need a healthy planet to achieve this.”

Hasan Al Hosani, Managing Director of Bayanat, said, “This partnership represents a beacon of innovation, uniting advanced AI technology with a passion for marine exploration. We are excited to come together to pioneer a future where data-driven solutions can safeguard our oceans, nurturing a thriving ecosystem for generations to come. Bayanat stands ready to offer its expertise in AI-powered surveying and mapping to support comprehensive marine conservation efforts and preserve the delicate balance of our oceans for a sustainable future."

Jaywun, the Middle East’s most advanced research vessel, was commissioned under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of EAD.

The 50-metre, state-of-the-art multipurpose marine conservation and fisheries vessel uses environmentally friendly technologies to conduct specialised research in the Arabian Gulf – the world’s warmest sea and a natural climate change laboratory – as part of the UAE’s forward-looking science and innovation-based initiatives.