Restocking the Seas around Bahrain through Fish Farming

The marine waters around Bahrain have been showing a decline in fish stock for several decades. But in the first decade of this millenium, restocking has become a routine practice endorsed by the former Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife (now the Supreme Council for the Environment). In recent years, the fishing industry in the Kingdom of Bahrain is starting to really look up with the restocking of the waters from farmed fish.

Requirements of a Fish Farm

Fish farming means growing fish in fixed enclosures (tanks, ponds or cages) exposed to the natural climatic conditions of the environs. As part of aquacultural activities (another term for fish farming), one needs to replenish fish stock preferably before the fish species dwindle to almost extinction. 

The basic requirements for a healthy fish farm address a number of chemistry-related characteristics. There must be good water circulation which is achieved through tidal action resulting in water velocity in the range of 10-60 cm/sec.  The oxygen level needs to be maintained at the optimum level of  >5ppm while salinity level should approach 49,000ppm. Water temperatures vary with the season and with tidal levels. The range, therefore is between 12 oC  at lowest tide in winter up to 37oC in the peak of summer. Fish prefer alkaline water levels. This can vary with fish species. For example, Shim (Bream) prefer the pH level to range within 8.2 -8.5. Wind and wave action should be minimal. This is best achieved by locating fish farms downwind of the dominant wind direction which means off the east coast of the island. GPIC is located on the right side of the island with a relatively sheltered site for the fish farm. (Source: http://www.gpic.com/responcibility/EnvironmentalProjects/40.aspx )

Fishes, such as bream, are released into the fish farm on reaching the juvenile stage (i.e when the body weight is around 70gm). The ideal fish weight, 210gm is achieved over the next 220+ days. Population density is very critical in fish farming with an ideal number of 7 fishes/m3. The fishes are fed a supplemental diet of dry food pellets. The feeding rate is in the range of 3-7% of the fish’s body weight.  So careful monitoring of the fish is really important. This amount of food supplements is spread out over four feedings in one 24-hour period. Feeding amounts can also be influenced by climatic conditions, thermal properties of the water and the current flow rate.

The fishes are monitored and their growth rate and general performance are all recorded. The average fish body weight is assessed every 15 days. It has been observed that the maximum growth rate is achieved when the water temperatures are at 23oC.  

As well as monitoring the fish themselves, the environs must also be kept in check. Submerged physical features need to be kept free of any buildup of rough, sharp materials that could harm or injure the young fish. Too many barnacles growing on a structure could cause the subsurface structures to break off.  The enclosure could be damaged resulting in an opening through which the farmed fish might escape prematurely out into the open ocean.

Farmed fish can easily catch diseases. This typically happens when or if the density of the stock gets too high.  Fish can get a variety of diseases so much care is taken to protect the whole project.

Fishes are harvested using such as a dragnet, sieving or a Gill net.  A dragnet is a seine method of fishing where the net hangs vertically in the water with weights holding the bottom down and floats keeping the top floating.  Gill nets are also vertical nets that trap fish via their gills being caught in the net.

Promising Initiative by GPIC

The Gulf Petrochemical Industries Company (GPIC) fish farming activities began in 1996 with a capacity of 10,000 fish. An area of 625 sq. meter forms part of the natural marine environment surrounding the industrial location, has been turned into a fish farming area. The three main species raised in the farm are Black Sea Bream (Shim), Mullet (Meid) and Rabbit Fish (Saffee).  By 2001, the capacity had increased to 30,000 fish. By 2012, capacity had reached 80,000 fish, and the projection for 2015 is 100,000 fish. (U.N. Global Compact Communication on Progress (UN Global Compact COP) including the food and agricultural principles, GPIC, June, 2015,p51)

The restocking of the surrounding waters has long been carried out by GPIC as part of their CSR initiatives. Each year, the company releases batches of sea bream into the local waters to replenish the fish stocks of the surrounding marine areas.  In August, 2008, 80,000 hamour and 20,000 subaiti bream, weighing between 80-100gm, were released into the sea. Today the capacity of fishes released to restock the surround marine waters stands at 100,000 fishes. (GPIC Sustainability Report, 2014, Building a Greener Future, 156pp). 

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Reuse and Recycling of Textbooks

For every academic term or semester, thousands of new textbooks are being printed, bought and used. On the other hand, almost the same number of textbooks and course material are being discarded after its use and find its way to the garbage bins ultimately landing at the landfill site where they are being buried, compacted and disposed occupying precious land area. Usually these textbooks are not being reused or recycled generating huge quantities of paper waste.

In many of the private schools, the textbooks have to be bought in every term due to change in edition or minor revisions putting an extra burden on parents to buy the new books that cannot be used for their other children in coming years. Due to rise in standard of living, it is not a common sight that the text books are being donated, exchanged, re-used or utilized by other family members. Such practices are yielding more generation of paper waste.

A Novel Initiative in Bahrain

The recent initiative taken by Bahrain’s Ministry of Education is laudable whereby the textbooks have to be returned by the students after completion of the academic year and will be reused for the incoming students. Reuse of textbooks will conserve resources, finances and will generate less paper waste besides educating the children to reuse and recycle and taking care of the environment. Some private initiatives have also being launched to support needy students by providing free textbooks to them to be collected from students and parents. It is expected that around 1,000 of these book sets will be distributed to students, while those deemed unusable will be recycled as part of a dual program being operated by the organization in Bahrain.

In addition to books, poor students will also get free stationery including notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers, rulers and sharpeners. There is a greater need that text books are shared and re-utilized while establishing a culture of environmental responsibility. Though such practices are being done at individual level, it needs to be done at community and at school level. Text book collection boxes are to be kept and maintained at school level by the school authorities or by the parent teachers association or any NGO. In addition, students should be made responsible towards protecting the environmental resources.

The Way Forward

In almost all developed countries, there are book banks and libraries from where the text/ course books can be purchased both used and un-used one and can be returned or resold after use. Many online shops are available which deliver the books at nominal cost. In addition, many charity, community and non-governmental organizations set up text books bins, booths and boxes for such purpose of books collection and re-utilization. In line with the Government initiative, all private schools and vocational institutions should also initiate the text book re-utilization and recycling programs.

Reuse of textbooks will not only conserve the environment but also help in educating children in less-privileged communities.

Reuse of textbooks will not only help in environmental conservation but also help in education of children in less-privileged countries.[/caption]

The local charities and area committees can also include text book collection/ donation program within their scope, which then needs to be publicized by the local media enabling students and their parents to generously donate these books for further re-use within the country or can be exported out to other poor neighboring countries where cost of books prohibit the children to go to school. Such habits and awareness of conserving environmental resources will go a long way in inculcating environmental related habits in our younger generation who will take charge of this planet in near future.

An Environmental Message

We need to understand that it takes around three tons of trees to make one ton of paper which also utilize huge quantity of water per ton than any other product in the world. Paper making also produces high levels of air and water pollution which can be avoided. Each ton of recycled paper can save 17 trees and 7,000 gallons of water. It takes one tree to make 25 books.

By recycling our books, we are giving that tree a new purpose and reducing deforestation. It is suggested that schools should hold semi-annual book sales to clear out old inventory. Special bins/ containers for these books are to be made and appropriately placed in schools. We need to clear our shelves, and get unused books back into circulation.

We need to understand that recycling is a responsibility of today for a better tomorrow.

Food Waste in Ramadan: Trends and Counter-Measures

With the holy month of Ramadan starting, preparations are in full swing to make all necessary arrangements by the government, traders and commercial establishments to provide all utilities, goods and food that are required during Ramadan. Muslims countries, Arab nations in particular, generate huge quantities of food waste which increases substantially during the month of Ramadan and festivals whereby the consumption and wastage of food increase at an alarming level. As per conservative estimates, around 15-25% of all food purchased or prepared during Ramadan find its way to the garbage bin before even being used or consumed.

In Bahrain alone, more than 300 tons per day of organic food waste is being generated as domestic waste in the country which constitutes around 11% of the total municipal waste. The food waste is being discarded along with other domestic waste and is being collected by the local private contractors, which is transported and disposed at the Asker municipal landfill site located some 25 km away from the city center in a quarry area.

Food Waste Trends in Ramadan

The trend shows that during Ramadan, the demand for beef, mutton, chicken and related meat products increases by almost 50% of the normal demand, which in itself is very high. Similar is the fate of other related food items like vegetables, fruits and dairy products etc. which are out of shelves quickly in the super markets and cold stores during special religious occasions.

The enormous food waste generation can be witnessed at all socio-economic levels. It is environmentally and morally considered offensive that as a society we have become so casual about the basic raw materials of life. Over the period of years, the society and people have become more wasteful due to rise in income, living standards, consumerism and affordability. But affording does not mean that wastage should increase as it is contrary to the Islamic principles of sustainability.

During Ramadan, people tend to buy more than their normal requirements for self consumption plus for taking care of guests. Due to the limited quantity of food to be consumed by people this additional quantity of cooked or made food becomes waste as Fatoor is not usually eaten as midnight snacks or as sahoor the other day. The demand for fresh food increases as majority of people are willing to spend an extra amount for the better quality of food.

The rich also sympathize greatly in this month and donate more food for charity which at times is not consumed by the poor section of the society due to late delivery and evening prayers. This trend again leads to more wastage, as the food items bought are not being fully and efficiently utilized and ultimately end up in garbage bins.

Key Counter-Measures

We need to change our attitude of not laying the table with more food than people can eat. This is not hospitality and welcoming the guests.

  • People should not buy in excess to avoid another trip to the grocery store or super market.
  • We need to develop better food habits and respect for the Mother Nature. The problem of food wastage lies in socio-cultural sensitization and behavioral change.
  • Buying in actual quantities especially fruits and vegetables. Making a shopping list first before going to the market will be more useful.
  • Buying items with a longer expiry dates for ease in using it during a longer period.
  • Daily checking of the food items in our fridge/ deep freezer to ensure its utilization before it becomes waste.
  • Inculcating good food utilization and storage habits can also play a key role in waste minimization.

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MSW Generation in the Middle East

The high rate of population growth, urbanization and economic expansion in the Middle East is not only accelerating consumption rates but also increasing the generation rate of all  sorts of waste. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait rank in the top-ten worldwide in terms of per capita solid waste generation. The gross urban waste generation quantity from Middle East countries has crossed 150 million tons per annum.The world’s dependence on Middle East energy resources has caused the region to have some of the largest carbon footprints per capita worldwide. The region is now gearing up to meet the challenge of global warming, as with the rapid growth of the waste management sector. During the last few years, UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have unveiled multi-billion dollar investment plans to Improve waste management scenario in their respective countries. 

Solid Waste Generation Statistics

Saudi Arabia produce more than 15 million tons of garbage each year. With an approximate population of about 28 million, the country produces approximately 1.3 kilograms of waste per person every day. More than 5,000 tons of urban waste is generated in the city of Jeddah alone. 

The per capita MSW generation rate  in the United Arab Emirates ranges from 1.76 to 2.3 kg/day. According to a recent study, the amount of solid waste in UAE totaled 4.892 million tons, with a daily average of 6935 tons in the city of Abu Dhabi, 4118 tons in Al Ain and 2349 tons in the western region.

Qatar's annual waste generation stands at 2.5 million tons while Kuwait produces 2 million tons MSW per annum. Bahrain generates more than 1.5 million tons of municipal waste every year. Countries like Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar have astonishingly high per capita waste generation rate, primarily because of high standard of living and lack of awarness about sustainable waste management practices.

Country

MSW Generation

(million tons per annum)

Saudi Arabia

13

UAE

5

Qatar

2.5

Kuwait

2

Bahrain

1.5

In addition, huge quantity of sewage sludge is produced on daily basis which presents a serious problem due to its high treatment costs and risk to environment, human health and marine life. On an average, the rate of municipal wastewater generation in the Middle East is 80-200 litres per person per day. Cities in the region are facing increasing difficulties in treating sewage, as has been the case in Jeddah where 500,000 cubic metre of raw sewage is discarded in Buraiman Lake daily. Sewage generation across the region is rising by an astonishing rate of 25 percent every year which is bound to create major headaches for urban planners. 

Waste-to-Energy for the Middle East

Municipal solid waste in the Middle East is comprised of organic fraction, paper, glass, plastics, metals, wood etc which can be managed by making use of recycling, composting and/or waste-to-energy technologies. The composting process is a complex interaction between the waste and the microorganisms within the waste. Central composting plants are capable of handling more than 100,000 tons of biodegradable waste per year, but typically the plant size is about 10,000 to 30,000 tons per year.

Municipal solid waste can be converted into energy by conventional technologies (such as incineration, mass-burn and landfill gas capture) or by modern conversion systems (such as anaerobic digestion, gasification and pyrolysis). The three principal methods of thermochemical conversion are combustion (in excess air), gasification (in reduced air), and pyrolysis (in absence of air). The most common technique for producing both heat and electrical energy from urban wastes is direct combustion. Combined heat and power (CHP) or cogeneration systems, ranging from small-scale technology to large grid-connected facilities, provide significantly higher efficiencies than systems that only generate electricity. 

At the landfill sites, the gas produced by the natural decomposition of MSW can be collected from the stored material and scrubbed and cleaned before feeding into internal combustion engines or gas turbines to generate heat and power. In addition, the organic fraction of MSW can be anaerobically stabilized in a high-rate digester to obtain biogas for electricity or steam generation. 

Anaerobic digestion is the most preferred option to extract energy from sewage, which leads to production of biogas and organic fertilizer. The sewage sludge that remains can be incinerated or gasified/pyrolyzed to produce more energy. In addition, sewage-to-energy processes also facilitate water recycling. Infact, energy recovery from MSW is rapidly gaining worldwide recognition as the 4th R in sustainable waste management system – Reuse, Reduce, Recycle and Recover.

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Say ‘No’ to Disposables

The waste quantities in all parts of the world are increasing many folds. In the past three decades, the waste quantities have almost been doubled. The per capita waste generation is alarmingly high especially in GCC countries. The municipal and governmental authorities have to spend huge resources in collection, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal of these wastes. With limited recycling facilities and absence of reusing culture, more quantities of the waste is now to be managed.

Major part of our municipal waste is still heading towards our landfill sites where it is being dumped, compacted and covered. The landfills are in quarries areas which are becoming soon filled up with the waste. In Bahrain almost 1.7 cum of space is required to accommodate 1 tons of waste.

Use of disposable cutlery has been increasing exponentially in developing countries

Despite a growing push to recycle and reuse, we must try to correct not the symptoms but the disease, and to do that, we should all avoid and reduce. The use of ‘disposables’ in the Middle East has increased exponentially in recent years and the items and quantities are increasing with each passing day. Here are few suggestions to avoid the use of disposables in our daily lives:

  • Avoid Paper Cups and Plates as paper manufacturing consume trees and are bleached white with chlorine, a process that releases dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet, and emit methane, a greenhouse gas when trashed and thrown in a landfill.
  • Avoid Polystyrene & Styrofoam which are hazardous, carcinogens, cause air pollution and can cause nervous system impairments among workers. Styrene can leach from containers into our food. Polystyrene cannot be recycled and never biodegrades; it only breaks down into smaller pieces, polluting the environment and harming the animals that mistake it for food.
  • Avoid Bottled Water and use reusable containers for water storage and drinking.
  • Avoid Plastic and Paper Shopping Bags. Keep your own cloth bag ready for all occasions.
  • Avoid Plastic Utensils, paper napkins, plastic cutlery, forks, spoons and knives. Use chinaware or glassware instead.
  • Avoid Use rechargeable batteries instead of single use batteries. •Avoid using disposable diapers and use cloth diapers.
  • Using ink pen rather than ball points and getting a refillables. •Using handkerchief rather than tissue and paper towels.
  • Avoid using disposable stirrers and individually packaged sugar, milk and creamer. Use a spoon for stirring and place the sugar and milk in reusable containers or jugs.
  • Avoid using individual sachets of chilly, mayonnaise or ketchup sauce. Store the sauce in reusable bottles and dispensers instead.
  • Avoid Gift Wrapping and put the gift in a reusable bag instead..

Each time you throw something in the trash, please consider that you have paid its cost and are contributing towards more waste at the landfill.

Please avoid disposables. Be wise and environmental friendly.

The Menace of Plastic Water Bottles

During the holy month of Ramadan, the use of drinking water increases many folds as water bottles are supplied and provided especially at ‘Fatoor’ and dinner at religious places, hotels, Ramadan tents and private homes. The main consumption is however, at the religious places due to longer stay of people in offering special night prayers (taraweeh and Qiyam ul Lail). These water bottles are provided in bulk by philanthropists, sponsors and people at religious places to quench the thirst of people who gather for the long prayers.

In the Middle East, it is common to see people greatly misuse this resource considering it free, taking a bottle, sipping it half and leaving it at the venue. These used and partially consumed water bottles are then collected and thrown away in municipal garbage bins from where  it is collected and transported to Askar municipal landfill site located some 25 km away from the city center. These water bottles thus have a high carbon footprint and represent enormous wastage of precious water source and misuse of our other fragile resources. In many cases, these water bottles are being littered around the commercial and religious places.

Plastic water bottles are a common feature in our urban daily life. Bottled water is widely used by people from all walks of life and is considered to be convenient and safer than tap water. A person on an average drinks around 2.0 liters of water a day and may consume 4-6 plastic bottles per day. UAE is considered as the highest per capita consumer of bottled water worlwide. 

We need to understand that plastic is made from petroleum.  24 million gallons of oil is needed to produce a billion plastic bottles. Plastic takes around 700 years to be degraded. 90% of the cost of bottled water is due to the bottle itself. 80% of plastic bottles produced are not recycled.

Globally, plastic recycling rate is very low and major quantities of plastics are being disposed in the landfills, where they stay for hundreds of years not being naturally degraded. Recycling one ton of plastic saves 5.74 cubic meters of landfill space and save cost of collection and transportation.

Water bottles manufacturing, transportation, distribution and again collection and disposal after its use create enormous pollution in terms of trash generation, global warming and air pollution. The transportation of bottled water from its source to stores alone releases thousands of tons of carbon dioxide. In addition to the millions of gallons of water used in the plastic-making process, two gallons of water are wasted in the purification process for every gallon that goes into the plastic bottles.

The first step is that once you open a water bottle, you need to complete consume it to fully utilize the resource. Do not throw the plastic bottles as litter. The solution to the plastic bottles usage lies in its minimum use and safe disposal. Alternatively, a flask, thermos or reusable water bottle can be used which can be refilled as required. It is suggested that religious places, hotels and malls should have efficient water treatment plants to reduce the use of plastic water bottles.

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Airports: Viable Places for Green Initiatives

Bahrain-airportCan airports ever be green? This is an overwhelming concept in a carbon-driven, and carbon-intensive industry. The reality is that air travel is often the only realistic option for the movement of both people and cargo in the current lifestyle and demands encompassed with time constraints. This is especially critical for the island nation of Bahrain that is so heavily dependent on air travel in terms of food security. With over 90% of all goods: perishable and manufactured, imported into the nation, this carbon-intensive industry is not going to disappear.

Airports themselves, may only contribute 5% to the carbon emissions attributed to the aviation industry, never the less, airport infrastructure could ensure a lowering of emissions, especially nitrogen oxide levels [1]. The International Air Transportation Association (IATA) has statistical evidence of improved fuel efficiency and better CO2 performance over the past 15 years[1]. It is viable for airports to reduce the nitrogen oxide levels around airports by developing ground transportation infrastructure for transferring passengers and deploying employees across the airport terminals, ground handling of personal baggage and commercial cargo, as well as the catering services, in a more eco-friendly mode of transportation.

Scope for Green Airports

Airports are viable places for adoption of green initiatives. A significant portion of the emissions are from vehicle transportation onsite at the airport is from moving employees and passengers between terminals and aircraft carriers. Plus all the freight movement, personal baggage and inflight catering and servicing. To secure adequate food products for Bahrain, the greater part of all food produce that is available on the market (93%) is flown in on a daily basis. The dependency on aviation is long-term but the ground handling is an option for energy efficient initiatives.

There is an opportunity to move from fossil fuel vehicles to those running on clean such as hybrid, electric, bioethanol, biogas or hydrogen-fueled vehicles. As road transportation is a major contributor of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, greener, cleaner vehicles are a desirable consideration for protecting a fragile environment.

Role of Environmental Awareness

Greater awareness of renewable energy sources is necessary before developers can even start to appeal to the business sector to adopt viable alternatives of transportation energy. New airport development and expansion projects need to assess the feasibility of alternative mode of transportation which in turn will require electrical charging locations as well as hydrogen filling stations [2]. This can also be marketed to eco-friendly rental companies to avail themselves of green initiatives.

Freight and delivery corporation could also avail themselves of alternative power sources as petrol subsides are reduced over the coming years. Ultimately, sustainable energy sources will become more attractive. Together, a sustainable transportation model along with other sustainable life-cycle models will all help reduce the carbon footprint of the airport industry.

Airports are considered ideal sites for promoting electricity-powered vehicles because one has a captive audience. If the options are already determined for the clients, the clients experience the use of electric cars in a win-win situation.

Rapid Increase in Passenger Flow

During the month of November, 2016, almost 674,000 passengers passed through the Bahrain airport [3]. There was over 8,500 total aircraft movement and almost 20,000 pieces of cargo and mail in the 30 day period. (Data source: Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications). Based on the November data, the numbers could be extrapolated out for a 12-month period with over 8 million passengers per year, over 100,000 total aircraft movement and 240,000 pieces of cargo and mail.

Similar information based on the official Airport Councils International (ACI) statistics from the World Airport Traffic Reports for the 10-year period from 2005 to 2015 [3]. The reports indicate a yearly average of 7.8 million passengers with over 95,350  total aircraft movements and over 304,000 metric tons of cargo. The steady increase in usage of airport facilities [4] is driving the modernization plans for the Bahrain International Airport to be designed for an annual passenger flow of 14 million persons [5].

Heathrow Airport – An Upcoming Role Model

Heathrow Airport in London handles more than 76 million passengers each year. Heathrow is already conducting trials for electric buses and personal electric cars, as part of a sustainable model, which requires a major input for developing recharging infrastructure. Such a large airport in the heart of a metropolitan centre has the advantage of a well developed public transportation infrastructure.

Electric vehicles at Heathrow Aiport

Electric vehicles at Heathrow Aiport

Both travelers and employees use the public transport systems which allows the advanced planning in other sustainable green technology for other transportation systems. Passenger car parks as well as company car parks have charging points for electric cars. The airport strategic plan is to have all cars and vans electric rather than fossil fuel powered by 2020.

Perspectives for Bahrain

Aviation transportation is vital for Bahrain’s survival and daily operations. Therefore, a eco-friendly infrastructure is a viable option for implementing green technology in the form of onsite transportation. However, the modernization of the Bahrain International Airport has limited its eco-friendly inclusion to ground service equipment such as the transformer substations, pre-conditioned air systems and pop-up units and the 400Hz power supply system all contracted to Cavotec Middle East [5].

This is one step towards achieving the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) decision to implement a global carbon offset for the aviation industry. It would be great to see the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications reach out to other green initiatives for the modernization of the national airport.

 

References

1. Can airports be green? http://www.airport-technology.com/features/feature100283/

2. How airports uniquely placed to boost the adoption of electric cars. https://www.theguardian.com/heathrow-sustainable-mobility-zone/2016/nov/21/airports-uniquely-placed-boost-adoption-electric-cars-emissions-reduction?CMP=ema-1706&CMP=

3. Airports Council International, World Airport Traffic Reports, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2020, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Traffic by Calendar Year, Official ACI Statistics. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahrain_International_Airport

4. Bahrain International Airport witnesses a 25% increase in passenger movement http://www.mtt.gov.bh//press-centre/press-releases/210914

5. New Passenger Terminal Building, Bahrain International Airport, Manama, Bahrain http://www.airport-technology.com/projects/new-passenger-terminal-building-bahrain-international-airport-manama/

New Fines for Littering in Bahrain

Littering is a common phenomenon both in urban and rural areas of Bahrain. Streets, sidewalks, parking lots, roads and highways are mostly covered with food wrappers, soft drink and water bottles, plastic bags, handbills, cigarette butts, tissues, papers etc. Litter has the potential to cause harm to human health, safety, welfare as well as the environment. Littering can be a fire hazard and it attracts pests and rodents. Litter also cause accidents on roads as drivers avoid litter on road. Litter also harm plants, vegetation and natural areas. The temptation to ‘litter’ is usually motivated by disrespect to the law and its enforcement as well as ignorance and arrogance in our attitude, thinking that municipalities will clean our mess.

There are several factors that may impact on littering behaviour including inconvenience and laziness, absence of ownership or pride for the area, feeling that someone else will pick it up, number, placement and appearance of litter bins at or near the site, absence of realistic penalties, enforcement of legislation, lack of social pressure and lack of knowledge of the environmental impacts of littering.

New Littering Fines in Bahrain

The local authorities in Bahrain have now taken cognizance of the situation. Now littering on Bahrain's roads could carry fines of up to BD300 if a new draft law is passed by parliament. The National Cleanliness Law was approved by the Capital Trustees Board last week and includes tougher punishments for dumping waste, leaving animal faeces on the streets, and disposing of medical or hazardous substances in public. The new law will give more judicial power to the municipal officials to penalize the offenders.

Under the existing law which is almost three decades old, offenders are fined only BD10 for littering. However, if the new rules are implemented, then fines for minor offences will range between BD100 and BD300 and for serious offences will be between BD500 and BD1,000.

Capital Trustees Board chairman has very rightly mentioned that ‘Dumping and littering have become a habit for a number of people and it needs immediate action, especially with fines not matching the offences. The fines once imposed will be monitored by the Capital Trustees Authority, and Bahrain's three other municipalities.

Thus, dumping and littering whether on main roads or neighborhoods, on pavements or alleys, at beaches or wasteland are prohibited. Also, dumping anything that may obstruct traffic or prevent people from movement is illegal whether it is garden waste, construction waste, furniture, vehicles or any other materials.

Conquering Litter

Litter can be conquered. People can make a difference. It is our responsibility to clean up the litter in an ‘earth-friendly manner.’ Clean communities have a better chance of attracting new business, residents and tourists. There is no reason for any of us to litter because we can always find a litter bin to throw the trash away.

Let us set an example for others, especially children, by not littering and by carrying a litterbag in our vehicle, securely covering trash containers to prevent wind or animals from spreading litter, when visiting parks and recreation areas make sure to leave the area clean for the next person to enjoy and restricting the distribution and disposal of handbills.

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Energy Conservation in Bahrain

bahrain-energyBahrain has one of the highest energy consumption rates in the world. The country uses almost three times more energy per person than the world average. Based on 2014 statistics, the country consumes 11,500 kWh of energy per capita compared with the global average of 3,030 kWh. The country is witnessing high population growth rate, rapid urbanization, industrialization and commercialization with more visitors coming in, causing fast growing domestic energy demand and is posing a major challenge for energy security.

The Government is aware of this challenging task and is continuously planning and implementing projects to enhance the energy production to meet with the growing demand. The issue of efficient use of energy, its conservation and sustainability, use of renewable and non-renewable resources is becoming more important to us. The increasing temperatures and warming on the other hand are also causing more need of air-conditioning and use of electrical appliances along with water usage for domestic and industrial purposes. This phenomenon is continuing in Bahrain and other GCC countries since past two decades with high annual electricity and water consumption rates compared with the rest of the world.

Bahrain’s energy requirement is forecast to more than double from the current energy use. The peak system demand will rise from 3,441 MW to around 8,000 MW. While the concerned authorities are planning for induction of more sustainable renewable energy initiatives, we need to understand the energy consumption scenario in terms of costs. With the prices of electricity and water going up again from March 2017 again, it is imperative that we as consumers need to think and adopt small actions and utilize practices that can conserve energy and ultimately cost.

The country has already embarked on the Energy Efficiency Implementation Program to address the challenge of curbing energy demand in the country over the next years. The National Energy Efficiency Action Plan and the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) have already been endorsed. The NREAP aims to achieve long-term sustainability for the energy sector by proposing to increase the share of renewable energy to 5 percent by 2020 and 10 percent by 2030.

Per capita energy consumption in Bahrain is among the highest worldwide

Per capita energy conservation in Bahrain is among the highest worldwide

As individuals, we need to audit how much energy we are using and how we can minimize our usage and conserve it. Whenever we save energy, we not only save money, but also reduce the demand for such fossil fuels as coal, oil, and natural gas. Less burning of fossil fuels also means lower emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), the primary contributor to global warming, and other pollutants. Energy needs to be conserved not only to cut costs but also to preserve the resources for longer use.

Here are few energy conservation tips we need to follow and adopt:

  • Turning off the lights, electrical and electronic gadgets when not in use.
  • Utilizing energy efficient appliances like LED lights, air conditioners, freezers and washing machines.
  • Service, clean or replace AC filters as recommended.
  • Utilizing normal water for washing machine. Use washing machine and dish washer only when the load is full. Avoid using the dryer with long cycles.
  • Select the most energy-efficient models when replacing your old appliances.
  • Buy the product that is sized to your actual needs and not the largest one available.
  • Turn off AC in unoccupied rooms and try to keep the room cool by keeping the curtains.
  • Make maximum use of sunlight during the day.
  • Water heaters/ Geysers consume a lot of energy. Use them to heat only the amount of water that is required.
  • Unplug electronic devices and chargers when they are not in use. Most new electronics use electricity even when switched off.
  • Allow hot food to cool off before putting it in the refrigerator

Food Waste, Ramadan and the Middle East

With the holy month of Ramadan only a few days away, huge food wastage in the Middle East is again hogging limelight. It is a widely acccepted fact that almost half of the municipal solid waste stream in the Middle East is comprised of food wastes and associated matter. The increasing amount of food waste in the Middle East urgently demands a strong food waste management strategy to ensure its minimization and eco-friendly disposal. 

Food Waste in Ramadan

Middle East nations are acknowleded as being the world’s top food wasters, and during Ramadan the situation takes a turn for the worse. In 2012, the Dubai Municipality estimated that in Ramadan, around 55% of household waste (or approximately 1,850 tons is thrown away every day. In Bahrain, food waste generation in Bahrain exceeds 400 tons per day during the holy month, according to Rehan Ahmad, Head of Waste Disposal Unit (Bahrain). As far as Qatar is concerned, it is expected that almost half of the food prepared during Ramadan will find its way into garbage bins.

The amount of food waste generated in Ramadan is significantly higher than other months. There is a chronic inclination of Muslims towards over-indulgence and lavishness in the holy month, even though the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), asked Muslims to adopt moderation in all walks of life. Socio-cultural attitudes and lavish lifestyles also play a major role in more food waste generation in Ramadan in almost all Muslim countries.

Economic Implications

The greater the economic prosperity and the higher percentage of urban population, the greater the amount of waste produced. A good example is the case of oil‐rich GCC which figures among the world’s most prolific per capita waste generators. High-income groups usually generate more food waste per capita when compared to less-affluent groups. Hotels, cafeterias, restaurants etc are also a big contributor of food wastes in the Middle East.

Food waste generation is expected to steadily with the rapid growth of regional economies boom. The per capita production of solid waste in Arab cities such as Riyadh, Doha and Abu Dhabi is more than 1.5 kg per day, placing them among the highest per capita waste producers in the world. These statistics point to loss of billions of dollars each year in the form of food waste throughout the Arab world.

Parting Shot

The foremost steps to reduce food wastage are behavioral change, increased public awareness, strong legislations, recycling facilities (composting and biogas plants) and community participation. Effective laws and mass sensitation campaigns are required to compel the people to adopt waste mimization practices and implement sustainable lifestyles. During Ramadan, religious scholars and prayer-leaders can play a vital role in motivating Muslims to follow Islamic principles of sustainability, as mentioned in the Holy Quran and Ahadith The best way to reduce food waste is to feel solidarity towards millions and millions of people around the world who face enormous hardships in having a single meal each day.

 

Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Guide to Green Camping in Bahrain

camp-sakhirThe winter camping season in Bahrain will start from 22nd October and campers will be flocking to Sakhir and adjacent areas especially during weekends. The five month camping season will be starting soon and will conclude in March 2017 with many governmental authorities managing and monitoring the camping activities to avoid occurring of any accident due to sensitivity of the area and to protect the natural environment. The camping areas have been marked and displayed for the people’s attention to book the location/ site and register their camps.

Camping is not only an outing and enjoyment but it also serve as a learning method of how to live close to the nature. Once we are enjoying the camping, we often forget and disregard the environment and mistreat it with our careless behavior.

The authorities like previous years have devised plans and programs and are creating awareness among the campers on safety and environmental concerns through media, notices, bill boards and banners. As per the rules, the campers are required to camp at least 150 meters away from any oil and gas fields and more than 50 meters away from the electricity voltage pylons and main roads to ensure their safety. This year, officials have ambitious plans to organize awareness campaigns to combat littering menace and imposing fines on violators.

The Supreme Camping Season Committee has asked the campers to camp in the allocated areas, register their camps and obtain camping label stressing that camps that are not registered or against the rules will be removed. The campers are asked to place the label in a clear and prominent place. Placing of fencing or installing signs, poles as well as afforestation work before the start of camping season are not allowed. The committee has also urged campers to maintain their safety by providing safety equipment in tents like a fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit, not to use open fires or stoves inside tents and provide an independent venue for the kitchen.

Campers are advised not to store any flammable materials in the camp in any form. Camps should be established away from slopes, to avoid damages due to rain and floods, mountain heights, restricted areas or pipes. Campers have been asked to maintain cleanliness of the camps by collecting garbage in bags and putting them in the allocated spots for garbage collection. Burning waste during or after the end of the camping season has also been prohibited. The committee also prohibited establishing buildings of brick or cement, putting barriers or tires in the camping sites. Barns are not allowed for any purpose. Keeping animals and hunting is also prohibited. The engagement in any action that would harm the environment and the wildlife is prohibited. It includes the destruction of trees, wild plants, leveling the ground etc.

Protection of the environment should be embedded in camping activities

Protection of the environment should be embedded in camping activities

The principle of green camping is “If you brought it in…. you need to take it out and leave the area just as you found it.” Let us follow some basic rules for our safety, health and environmental conservation at the camping sites.

  • Use minimum illumination and electronic gadgets.
  • Switch off all electricity appliances and instruments when not in use.
  • Use minimum water and turn off the taps after use.
  • Do not store any waste at site. Keep all recyclable and disposable waste in separate bags.
  • Avoid using disposable plates, cups, cutlery, dishes etc. Use reusable dishes and utensils and wash them after each use.
  • Don’t throw any food in open. It will attract vermin, birds, insects and rodents.

Let us be more environmental conscious and respect our resources while enjoying the camping season this year.

Artificial Reef Construction in the Arabian Gulf

Artificial-ReefCoral reefs around the globe are highly sensitive to abiotic and biotic factors that alter the natural balance of the marine ecosystem. This in terms threatens coral species with the effect of ‘bleaching’ which is slowly destroying the coral communities. As the ecosystem deteriorates, this in turn impacts the fisheries industry which in the Arab Gulf is a major source of local revenue and a major food source for the people of the region.

Artificial Coral Reefs

To counteract the susceptible marine ecosystems, a very innovative and creative approach that has been tried and tested in other parts of the globe, has become a strength in reestablishing marine ecosystems in the Arabian Gulf. Artificial coral reef building approach is one way to mitigate the environmental situations where fish breeding grounds are being destroyed especially by human activities such as overfishing, and island development and land extension along the coast lines. A local company, Al Seef Reef Arabia was established in 2012 in partnership with international partners to design and produce artificial reef units suited for the local environs. 

The Magic of Reef Balls

The reef ball is the most widely used design for re-establishing coral reef areas. Within the Arab Gulf, the natural reef has coral “bommies”. The man-made reef balls are similar in design and function creating ideal environs for both juvenile and adult fishes. The reef balls provide safe and nutrient rich habitats for fish to bred and grow into full-sized mature species.

The reef balls are made of a marine grade concrete mix of high strength (50+ MPA). There are no toxic chemicals added to the mix and the life expectancy of the reef balls in the Arab Gulf is anticipated to be in excess of 100 years. The balls range in size from as small as 20 kg right up to 9 tonnes. The ball shape is the standard design, but indigenous designs are also explored and experimented with.  It is hoped that they will be an added feature in the tourist industry.

The artificial reef balls have other benefits as well as repairing fish habitats and assisting in replenishing local fisheries. The artificial reefs are hardier and more resilient, so once habitats are re-established, the reefs will provide more diving opportunities for both locals and tourists.

Re-establishment of Marine Ecosystems

Because the Gulf is a major region for oil production which impinges on the coastal waters, as well as the shipping of oil and its byproducts, the marine environment is subjected to harsher factors that degradate the local marine environment. The artificial reefs make a major contribution to reestablishing and strengthening these environments. As well as enhancing the local fisheries and coral regions, the reef balls can also provide beach protection and act as breakwaters in areas subjected to more aggressive wave action.

Reef ball is the most widely used design for re-establishing coral reef areas

Reef ball is the most widely used design for re-establishing coral reef areas

The changing climate also has its natural impact as temperatures steadily creep higher each season. There can also be increased levels of toxicity and salinity in the surrounding waters due to anthropogenic activities. Man is able to give nature a hand with these artificial structures.

Bahrain Leading the Way

With government support, the local company has been able to deploy 4,500 reef units since 2014. There are a total of ten reef complexes now deployed in Bahrain coastal waters.  The main objective was to re-establish fish breeding grounds that provide a safe environment for juvenile fishes to mature and ultimately replenish the fish stocks and secure the local fishing industry.

Potential sites for the establishment of artificial reefs are first identified. The areas are then studied and investigated directly with scuba divers and remotely with drop-down video camera, as well as by conducting fish surveys of the area. After a full hydrodynamic assessment of the area is conducted, then plans are devised for restorative action through the placement of the artificial reef balls. Monitoring is conducted on a quarterly basis to record and quantify the re-establishment of various fish species, especially those species that are most favoured in the fishing industry.

As the artificial reef balls projects are still in the early stages, details regarding exact location and the level of restoration is not released to the general public nor scientific community. We will all have to wait a little longer before quantitative evidence is made available to the community at large.