When it comes to protecting the marine environment, it truly takes a community to generate change. That’s why it was so  gratifying  to see that over 15,000 balloons were  prevented from being released in Ras Al Khaimah due to community members rallying together and informing the authorities and the organisers of the impacts of balloons on the environment.

 Since the first twelve months of its inception, community members have alerted the marine conservation organisation, Azraq, of all types of marine conservation concerns, and wherever possible Azraq has endeavoured to alert the relevant authorities of the issues which threaten the marine environment. .

 Natalie Banks, Managing Director of Azraq,  oversees various initiatives regarding marine conservation including a #balloonsblow campaign, thanked both the community and the authorities for their cooperation and timeliness in protecting the marine environment.

 “Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration asserts that ‘environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens,’ Ms Banks said.

 “It is encouraging to see the amount of concerned citizens and the positive response from the authorities in this particular incident, as well as a previous incident whereby the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi were contacted regarding an injured turtle.”

 In order to save marine life, it takes strength in numbers to make positive changes.

 “While protecting the environment can sometimes feel overwhelming regarding the amount of global issues the planet is facing, the concerned authorities in the United Arab Emirates genuinely care and are taking positive steps to protect the environment for future generations,” Ms Banks said.

 The step taken by the Ras Al Khaimah authorities and the organisers of the balloon release, highlights the important  role that the community has in bringing forth their concerns about the environment.

 “We are the custodians of the future and we need to understand that it is these small steps that make a difference. One doesn’t have to wait for something monumental to happen in order to act. We have the power and ability to make a difference by highlighting our concerns for what we see around us daily, and making individual changes to our own habits” Ms Banks said.

 Government organisations are also instrumental in stopping marine life and the environment from degenerating. Azraq, who has a permit from the Community Development Authority in Dubai to operate, contacted both the Ras Al Khaimah Environmental Protection Development Authority (EPDA) and the Ras Al Khaimah Waste Management Agency team with their concerns about the balloon release. The Tourism Development Authority was also informed of the matter by the Waste Management Agency.  The government agencies handled the community’s concern with extreme urgency. In fact, it was only about an hour after raising their concerns, that Azraq heard that the balloon release had been cancelled by Dr. Saif al Ghais, Executive Director of EPDA.

 This collaborative effort of the community and the government organisations is a case-in-point in what can be achieved to save the environment if all the stakeholders work together.

 To find out further information regarding the impacts of balloon releases visit: