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MoE and Maersk Oil celebrate successful conclusion of Qatar Whale Shark season

Tuesday 12 January 2014 – Doha, Qatar:  At a ceremony in Doha on Sunday 12 January 2014,  Maersk Oil Qatar joined with Qatar’s Ministry of Environment, the Emiri Air Force and the Qatari Coast Guard to celebrate and recognize the collaborative efforts made by all parties during the 2013 Qatar Whale Shark Research Project season.

His Excellency the Minister of Environment, Ahmed Bin Amer Al-Humaidi, Brigadier Mashoot Faisal Al-Hajri, Head of Helicopter Wing at the Emiri Air Force and Brigadier Ali Ahmed Al-Mannai, Head of Qatari Coast Gourds, together with Lewis Affleck, Managing Director of Maersk Oil, Sheikh Faisal Bin Fahad Al Thani, Deputy Managing Director of Maersk Oil and members of the research teams were all in attendance.

Speaking at the event, HE Al Humaidi said: “Today we recognise the impressive collaboration that has taken place between the Ministry of Environment, the Emiri Air Force, the Coast Guard, Maersk Oil and the various researchers from the Qatar Whale Shark Research Project. This is an important project for the State of Qatar and is a great example of how industry, academia and the state authorities can effectively work together and achieve internationally recognised results. ”

Sheikh Faisal Bin Fahad Al Thani, said: “The Qatar Whale Shark Research Project is the first joint initiative that Qatar’s Ministry of the Environment and Maersk Oil have embarked on as part of our collaboration agreement to research Qatar’s marine biodiversity. At Maersk Oil, our strategy has always been to ensure that Qatar gains the maximum possible benefit from the hydrocarbon resources it possesses and to operate in an environmentally responsible manner.”

Now in its third year, the Qatar Whale Shark Research Project has been able to build a good picture of when, why and how many whale sharks visit the Al Shaheen oilfield area off the north eastern coast of Qatar.  During the many expeditions this season the team managed to deploy satellite tags, acoustic receivers, acoustic tags, collect tissue samples and record identification photos of the sharks encountered. The project has now identified close to 400 individual sharks since 2011 and many of the sharks return to the Al Shaheen area every year.

While whale sharks have been studied for decades in other regions of the world the recently documented aggregation offshore Qatar has only been studied for two years. Furthermore, Al Shaheen is situated more than 80 kilometers from the nearest coast, which makes the reach work more challenging and the research achievement even more impressive.