His Highness Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, has visited Jaywun, the UAE’s first marine research vessel of its kind, which was commissioned by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD).

During the visit, His Highness reviewed the vessel’s cutting-edge research equipment and laboratories, and met with Emirati crew, marine scientists and researchers who are conducting research as part of EAD’s Ocean World Discovery project - which will monitor and assess marine biodiversity to address the effects of climate change, contribute to strengthening the UAE’s marine science capabilities, and serve as a scientific platform to advance marine research locally and globally.

His Highness was accompanied by Her Excellency Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EAD; and Her Excellency Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of EAD.

Named after one of the most valuable pearls found in the Arabian Gulf, Jaywun is the most advanced research vessel in the Middle East. The 50-metre craft will operate in the UAE’s territorial waters and allow EAD to study marine environments and fisheries in waters deeper than 10 metres. The vessel will berth approximately 30 people and features a remotely operated submarine vehicle as well as six fully equipped laboratories to study marine samples. 

Her Excellency Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of EAD, said: “Jaywun is testament to the commitment of Abu Dhabi’s leadership to supporting science in the study of oceans, the sustainability of marine environments, and the preservation of healthy aquatic ecosystems. It will also contribute to understanding the impacts of climate change, in order to develop appropriate solutions to address this pressing challenge.”

The new vessel will support efforts to maintain the biodiversity and resources of the UAE by conducting comprehensive surveys across fisheries, coral reef, seagrass habitat and deep-water marine environment surveys. Additionally, the vessel will play an important role in developing strategies and management plans to ensure the recovery and sustainability of fish stocks.

Jaywun will support several EAD environmental initiatives, including the Blue Carbon Assessment Project for Oceanic Fisheries – the first oceanic, blue carbon fisheries assessment survey in the region. The survey project was created to support the UAE’s strategic initiative to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and will be conducted in the country's waters.

A baseline survey of the marine Environment will be also conducted to identify important biodiversity sites and set priorities for the conservation of the marine environment and biodiversity.

As well as conducting surveys to map and monitor marine habitats, including seagrass and coral reefs, EAD will monitor the emirate’s deep-water habitats and survey marine wildlife to record species and the general distribution of marine mammals and threatened species in the emirate’s deeper waters. In addition, marine water quality surveys using CTDs, plankton nets and sediment samplers to analyse water quality at different depths will also be undertaken.

A Fisheries Resources Assessment Survey will be also conducted to obtain updated stock size estimates, providing comparisons with abundance estimates from previous surveys. As well as undertaking biological studies, the work plan also includes establishing a DNA baseline for the UAE’s main fish species, while studying the complete genome sequences of more than 12 major fish species. The survey combines the collection of marine organisms with the use of underwater sound wave techniques.

The agency has collaborated with G42 and OceanX to equip the research vessel with the latest technology to study the DNA of marine organisms and fish during surveys that EAD will conduct. An integrated database will be prepared for those species and linked to their genetic sequence – a first in the use of this technology