The role of environmental impact assessment in protecting coastal and marine environments in rapidly developing islands_the case of Bahrain, Arabian Gulf

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Bahrain, a group of islands, is facing several environmental challenges, including degradation of coastal and marine environments due to intensive dredging and reclamation activities. Presently, reclamation activities have resulted in adding around
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  The role of environmental impact assessment in protecting coastaland marine environments in rapidly developing islands: The case of Bahrain, Arabian Gulf  Humood A. Naser Department of Biology, College of Science, University of Bahrain, P.O. Box: 32038, Bahrain a r t i c l e i n f o  Article history: Received 26 July 2014Received in revised form10 November 2014Accepted 8 December 2014Available online Keywords: Environmental impact assessmentCoastal developmentDredgingReclamationBahrain a b s t r a c t Bahrain, a group of islands, is facing several environmental challenges, including degradation of coastaland marine environments due to intensive dredging and reclamation activities. Presently, reclamationactivities have resulted in adding around 110 km 2 representing an increase of 14% of the total land area of Bahrain. Recognizing the role of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in protecting environment fromdegradation and pollution associated with coastal developments, Bahrain formally adopted EIA in itsenvironmental system in 1998. The present study investigated the practice and effectiveness of EIA inprotecting coastal and marine environments in Bahrain by reviewing selected EIA reports and solicitingviews of EIA experts, consultants, academics and other relevant bodies. Shortcomings in environmentaland ecological assessment practices related to coastal and marine developments were recognized andconstrains that restrict the effectiveness of EIA in protecting coastal and marine environments in Bahrainwere identi 󿬁 ed. Maintaining a sustainable use of coastal and marine natural resources in Bahrain re-quires measures to holistically address the interactions among the several dredging and reclamationprojects and their additive and cumulative impacts. This could be achieved through enhancing thecurrent practice of EIA process and adopting Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for dredging andreclamation activities. ©  2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. 1. Introduction The Arabian Gulf is a semi-enclosed sea situated in the sub-tropical zone and characterized by marked  󿬂 uctuations in seatemperatures and high salinities. Flora and fauna species in theArabian Gulf inhabit one of the harshest marine environments dueto natural stressors represented by higher levels of salinity andtemperature, and more recently lower levels of pH (Uddin et al.,2012). Marine organisms in the Arabian Gulf are living close tothe limits of their environmental tolerance (Sheppard et al., 2012).Despiteextremeclimaticconditions,theArabianGulfsupportsarange of coastal and marine habitats such as mangrove swamps,seagrass beds, coral reefs, and mud and sand  󿬂 ats (Naser, 2014).However, these ecosystems are under ever-increasing pressurefrom anthropogenic activities that are associated with the rapideconomic, social and industrial developments in the Arabian Gulf countries. Reclamation and dredging, industrial and sewageef  󿬂 uents, hypersaline water discharges from desalination plants,and oil pollution are examples of anthropogenic stressors thatcontribute to environmental degradation in the Arabian Gulf,which is classi 󿬁 ed among the highest anthropogenically impactedregions in the world (Halpern et al., 2008). These threats warrantthe designation of the Arabian Gulf, which constitutes part of theArabian Sea Ecoregion, as  “ critically endangered ”  by the Interna-tional Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the WorldWildlife Fund (WWF) (http://wwf.panda.org).Coastal and marine environments in the Arabian Gulf are theprime target for most of the major housing, recreational, andeconomic developments. Coastal developments along the ArabianGulf have accelerated at an unprecedented rate in the past decadeto accommodate large-scale projects, including arti 󿬁 cial islands,waterfront cities, ports and marinas. Consequently, the coasts of the Arabian Gulf are undergoing rapid construction activities thatoften associated with intensive dredging and reclamation (Naser,2014). It is currently estimated that more than 40% of the coastsof the Arabian Gulf have been developed (Hamza and Munawar,2009). E-mail addresses:  hnaser@uob.edu.bh, humood.naser@gmail.com. Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Ocean & Coastal Management journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/ocecoaman http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2014.12.0090964-5691/ ©  2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Ocean & Coastal Management 104 (2015) 159 e 169  The Kingdom of Bahrain is an archipelago composed of 40islands in addition to several islets, shoals and patches of reefslocatedintheArabianGulf(Fig.1)betweenlatitude25  32 0 and26  20 0 northandlongitude50  20 0 and50  50 0 east.Thetotallandareaof Bahrain in 2012 is about 777 km 2 . With over than one millioninhabitants (CIO, 2012), Bahrain is among the highest populationdensities in the world.Like most of islands countries, Bahrain is facing several envi-ronmental challenges (Douglas, 2006), including degradation of coastal and marine environment due to various sources of anthropogenic activities. Nonetheless, the major environmentalchallenge for Bahraini coastal and marine environments is theincreasingdemandforurbaninfrastructurestosustaincommercial,industrial, residential, and tourism developmental projects (Naser,2010). Consequently, coastal reclamation is regularly carried out inBahrain to meet the demand of rapid coastal developments.The increasing rate of land reclamation has contributed signif-icantly to the deterioration of marine habitats and resources,including coral, seagrass and mangrove ecosystems as well as 󿬁 shing industry. Signs of environmental degradation in severalecosystems in Bahrain have been reported. Zainal et al. (1993) re-ported a loss of 10.2 km 2 of seagrass beds on the east coast of Bahrain detectedbyremote sensing imagery betweentheperiod of 1985 and 1992. Similarly, the same study recorded a loss of 218,700 m 2 of corals in Fasht Al-adhm (the largest reef in Bahrain).These losses were mainly attributed to dredging and reclamationactivities and increasing levels of sedimentation and pollution. ThemarineareaofTubliBay,whichhoststhelastremainingmangrovesin Bahrain, has been reduced from to 25 to 12 km 2 in 2008 due tointensive reclamation activities. These activities signi 󿬁 cantlydestroyed mangrove stands and reduced their spatial distributionto 0.31 km 2 (Abido et al., 2011).According to the Central Informatics Organization in Bahrain,reclamation activities have resulted in adding around 110 km 2 representing an increase of 14% of the total land area of Bahrain in1963 (667 km 2 ). Reclamation has been more marked in Muharraq;the second main island in Bahrain. The total land area of this islandhasincreasedfrom13km 2 in1951to56km 2 in2008(Modaraetal.,2014). The escalation of reclamation activities has resulted inalteringmorethan80%of theBahrainicoastlines(Fuller,2005).Itislikely that reclamation will accelerate in the coming decades inorder to secure land for large-scale projects as population inBahraincontinuestogrow. This isre 󿬂 ectedintheBahrainiNationalLandUseStrategy2030,whichrecognizesreclamationasthemajoroption for securing the future needs for land (Naser, 2011).Large-scale dredging and reclamation activities may affect bothintegrity and productivity of several coastal and marine ecosys-tems, which include seagrass beds, mangroves, coral reefs, andmuddy shores. These ecosystems are considered Valued EcosystemComponents (VECs) because they provide important ecological,economic, cultural and aesthetic goods and services ( Jenson andBourgeron, 2001).There are several potential physical, chemical and biologicalimpacts on valued ecosystem components in coastal and marineenvironments that are associated with dredging and reclamationactivities. The removal and deposit of marine sediment maylead tochangesintopographyandbathymetry,alterationsof tidalcurrentsand sediment transport pathways, and increases in suspendedsediment concentration, organic material, heavy metals and otherpollutants (Tillin et al., 2011).Removal and destruction of habitats due to dredging andreclamation may reduce abundance, diversity and biomass of benthic organisms, degrade coral reef and seagrass ecosystems dueto sediment runoff and turbidity (Erftemeijer and Lewis, 2006;Erftemeijer et al., 2012), and lead to the loss of spawninggrounds,nurseryandfeedingareasfor 󿬁 sh,crustaceansandwaders(Doorn-Groen and Stephanie, 2007).Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is considered a stan-dard tool for decision-making in most countries throughout theworld. EIA aims at integrating environmental considerations in thedecision-making system, avoiding or minimizing adverse impacts,protecting natural systems and their ecological processes, andimplementing principles of sustainable developments (Noble,2012). Fig. 1.  A map showing the location of the Kingdom of Bahrain within the Arabian Gulf. H.A. Naser / Ocean & Coastal Management 104 (2015) 159 e 169 160  Recognizing the role of EIA in protecting environment fromdegradation and pollution associated with economic de-velopments, Bahrain formally adopted EIA in its environmentalsystem in 1998. According to Ministerial Order No. 1 of 1998 withrespect to Environmental Evaluation for Projects, coastal develop-ment projects, including reclamation and dredging, are subjectedto environmental impact assessment.EIA is one of the frequently used approaches in coastal planningand management (Kay and Alder, 2005). It is considered as aneffectivetoolto minimize anthropogenicimpacts andtoinducetheimplementation of protection measures of coastal environment(Price and Khan, 2002). The importance of EIA in protectingbiodiversity and promoting the sustainable use of coastal andmarineresourcesisrepresentedinitsfundamentalroleasaprocessfor predicting the environmental effects of projects or programs incoastal areas. Additionally, EIA involves in facilitating consultationbetween various stakeholders as well as the public, consideringalternatives for projects and locations, ensuring early identi 󿬁 cationof potential impacts and cumulative effects on coastal and marineenvironments, and implementing mitigation and compensationmeasures (Badr et al., 2004; Kay and Alder, 2005). However, theeffectiveness of EIA in protecting coastal and marine environmentsand helping to achieve informed and balanced decision making isvaried from one country to another due to differences in environ-mental, social, legislative, political, and economic contexts (Mararaet al., 2011).Giving the large-scale of coastal developments in Bahrain thatare potentially associated with adverse environmental impacts oncoastal and marine ecosystems, it is important to investigatewhethertheexistingEIA systemiscontributingtotheprotectionof coastal and marine environments. Therefore,the overall aim of thisstudy was to investigate the role of EIA in achieving ecologicallysustainable coastal developments in Bahrain. This aim could beachieved by 1) evaluating how well EIA reports concerned withcoastal and marine environments that involve intensive dredgingand reclamation activities comply with the requirements of bestpractice in ecological assessment as set by national and interna-tional criteria; and 2) identifying perceptions of experts and rele-vant bodies involved in the EIA process about its effectiveness inprotecting coastal and marine environments in Bahrain. 2. Methods The practice and effectiveness of EIA in protecting coastal andmarine environments in Bahrain were investigated using twomethods that complement each other; namely reviewing of EIAreports and soliciting views of EIA practitioners, consultants, aca-demics and other relevant bodies.  2.1. Review of EIA reports Reviewing EIA reports is important approach to investigate thepractice and performance of EIA process. It typically providesquantitative data on the EIA system (Badr et al., 2011), the generalquality of EIA reports (Phylip-Jones and Fischer, 2013) or insightsintotheperformanceof speci 󿬁 cproceduresormeasureswithintheEIA process (Briggs and Hudson, 2013; Drayson and Thompson,2013).Twenty Bahraini EIA reports (Table 1) related to major housing,recreational,  󿬁 nancial investment, and causeway projects wereobtained of  󿬁 cially from the environmental authority, and person-ally from relevant environmental consultants. The EIA reportsconcern the coastal and marine environments and are associatedwith large-scale dredging and reclamation activities. They repre-sent most of the major projects that were carried out on or off thenorthern and eastern coastlines of Bahrain during the period be-tween 2004 and 2014. A previous study revealed shortcomingsrelated to the quality of   󿬁 fteen Bahraini EIA reports concerningcoastalandmarinedevelopmentsthatproducedbetween1996and2004(Naseret al.,2008).Therefore,the period of the present study(2004 e 2014) was selected to re 󿬂 ect on the recent practice andeffectiveness of EIA in coastal andmarineenvironments inBahrain.Several environmental statement review packages wereexplored, including the commonly used environmental statementreview package produced by Lee et al. (1999), the Guidance onenvironmental statement review produced by the European Union(EC, 2001), and the environmental statement review package pro-duced by Impact Assessment Unit at Oxford Brookes University(Glasson et al., 2005). These review packages have been success-fully employed in EIA studies in several countries throughout theworld (Badr et al., 2011).  Table 1 Project types and year of preparation of the Bahraini EIA reports reviewed in this study.No Year Type of project Dredged material m 3 Reclaimed area km 2 1 2004 Housing developments and their associated infrastructures 30  10 6 7.42 2004 Housing developments and their associated infrastructures 15  10 6 43 2004 Resort city, including housing, recreational and commercial facilities 34  10 6 204 2004 Causeway 2.0  10 5 0.225 2004 Commercial and recreational developments 2.0  10 5 0.476 2006 Mixed-use developments, including housing and commercial facilities 77.1  10 6 127 2006 Waterfront bay, including economic and commercial facilities 2.9  10 6 0.458 2006 District cooling system, including marine installation  e e 9 2007 Resort hotel  e  0.004710 2008 Mixed-use developments, including healthcare, housing and commercial facilities 10  10 6 1.2511 2008 Recreational resort 5.0  10 5 0.0512 2008 Causeway 20  10 6 0.8513 2009 Mixed-use developments, including housing and commercial facilities 32  10 6 4.1614 2009 Commercial waterfront, including a marina and waterside promenades 2.4  10 6 0.4515 2009 Commercial, light industrial and retail facilities 3.3  10 6 0.6016 2010 Housing developments and their associated infrastructures 30  10 6 3.9017 2010 Housing developments and their associated infrastructures 18  10 6 2.2418 2010 Borrow areas ( 󿬁 ll materials will be derived from new borrow areas to ensurecompletion of an existing reclamation project)22  10 6 e 19 2013 Mixed-use developments, including housing and commercial facilities 20  10 6 3.220 2014 Expansion of industrial facility 10  10 6 1.1Total 327.6  10 6 62.34 H.A. Naser / Ocean & Coastal Management 104 (2015) 159 e 169  161  Due to the nature of the coastal developments that are associ-ated with dredging and reclamation, reviewing ecological impactsassessment component in EIA reports may provide insights on thepractice and effectiveness of EIA in protecting coastal and marineenvironments in Bahrain.Environmental and ecological guidelines related to the EIAprocess in Bahrain are generally limited (Naser, 2012). Therefore,speci 󿬁 c criteria to systematically review EIA reports of major pro- jects related to coastal and marine environments were formulatedbased on the widely used ecological guidelines in the UnitedKingdom produced by Institute of Ecology and EnvironmentalManagement (IEEM) in 2006 as well as the guidelines of ecologicalimpact assessment in Britain and Ireland (marine and coastal)produced by the IEEM in 2010. These guidelines were developed topromote best practice in ecological impact assessment relating to awiderangeofhabitats,includingcoastalandmarineenvironments.These guidelines have been re 󿬂 ected positively on the practice andeffectiveness of ecological impact assessment in the UnitedKingdom (Briggs and Hudson, 2013).However, the adopted criteria were modi 󿬁 ed to accommodatethe environmental contexts in Bahrain. These include legislativeand regularity frameworks of EIA in Bahrain, valued ecosystemcomponents in Bahrain, nature of projects associated with coastaland marine environments (i.e. dredging and reclamation), and theexpected impacts of these projects on valued ecosystem compo-nents. The evaluation criteria used in this study were based on 24review questions that were divided into nine reviewareas; namelydescription of existing ecological environment likely to be affected,determination of theimportance of valuedecosystemcomponents,identi 󿬁 cation and evaluation of impacts, consideration of alterna-tives, cumulative effects, evidence of stakeholder involvements,mitigation,compensationandenhancement,monitoringmeasures,and communication and presentation (Table 2).Rating the quality of the reviewed EIA reports was based on thequality index used by Soderman (2005) and Khera and Kumar (2010) according to the following formula: QI ¼ A þ 0 : 5 * B = 24 WhereQI ¼ Quality IndexA ¼ number of review questions fully metB ¼ number of review questions partially met24 ¼ total number of review questionsAccording to this formula, the highest value of the quality indexwillbe1,whichisthecasewhenallofthereviewquestionsarefullymet.ThereviewedEIA reports weregrouped basedon thescores of the quality index into four categories. The index scores weredivided between 0.0 and 0.25 (poor), 0.26 and 0.50 (borderline),0.51 and 0.70 (satisfactory), and 0.71 and 1.00 (good).This quality index has some limitations that should be notedwheninterpretingtheresults. Theindexis generallysubjective andthe results inevitably re 󿬂 ect the evaluator's understanding of whatconstitutes a satisfactory treatment of a review question. Addi-tionally, the relative strengths and weaknesses of the reviewed EIAreportsmightnotbere 󿬂 ectedinthisindex.However,thisindexisauseful tool for overall comparison of the EIA quality (Khera andKumar, 2010).  2.2. Views of EIA practitioners and professionals Views of relevant bodies involved in the EIA process on theeffectiveness of EIA in protecting coastal and marine environmentsin Bahrainwere solicited using a questionnaire survey. Efforts weremade to include most of the concerned bodies from different sec-tors that may directly or indirectly involved in EIA process. Thetarget population of the survey consisted of members from theenvironmental authority, environmental consulting  󿬁 rms, andenvironmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Addi-tionally, marine biologists, marine ecologists, and environmental-ists from the main universities in Bahrain (University of Bahrainand Arabian Gulf University) as well as bachelor and master stu-dents or graduateswho completed a course in EIA at the Universityof Bahrain were included in the questionnaire survey.The survey questionnaire was composed of three main sections.The  󿬁 rst part was related to the effectiveness of EIA process inBahrain. Participants were asked to indicate their opinions on theeffectiveness of the main stages of EIA namely; consideration of project andlocation alternatives, prediction of impacts, assessmentof impacts, consideration of cumulative impacts, mitigation andmonitoring measures, and public and stakeholders involvement.The second part measure the extent to which the experts in EIAagreed or disagreed with statements related to the achievement of EIA goals in coastal and marine environments in Bahrain. Thesestatements were derived from the general objectives of EIAincluding, minimizing adverse impacts of dredging and reclama-tion, contributing to the protection of ecosystems and marine  Table 2 Review criteria for environmental impact assessment reports in Bahrain that werederived from IEEM (2006, 2010). Description of existing ecological environment likely to be affected 1. Is the zone of in 󿬂 uence expected to be affected by the project indicated?2. Are the boundaries of assessment and ecological study (spatially andtemporally) identi 󿬁 ed?3. Are designs and methods of ecological surveys explained?4. Are the valued ecosystem components likely to be affected by the projectidenti 󿬁 ed and suf  󿬁 ciently described? Determination of the importance of valued ecosystem components 5. Are ecological, economic, recreational, educational and cultural importanceof species, ecosystems and habitats considered?6. Is the conservation status of habitats or species within a geographical areaspeci 󿬁 ed? Identi 󿬁 cation and evaluation of impacts 7. Are methods or approaches of impact identi 󿬁 cation and predictiondescribed?8. Are potential impacts on species, ecosystems and habitats identi 󿬁 ed?9. Is signi 󿬁 cance of impacts appropriately assessed?10. Are uncertainties in impact prediction and evaluation indicated? Consideration of alternatives 11. Are appropriate project locations considered?12. Are appropriate project alternatives considered (e.g. dredging and recla-mation options)? Cumulative effects 13. Arecumulative effectsonvaluedecosystemcomponentsaddresseddirectlyin the EIA report?14. Are any other existing or planned developments with which the projectcould have cumulative effects identi 󿬁 ed?15. Are cumulative effects on the environment of the project together withother existing or planned developments in the locality described? Evidence of stakeholder involvements 16. Are appropriate stakeholders involved?17. Are the public involved? Mitigation, compensation and enhancement 18. Are appropriate mitigation, compensation and enhancement measuresproposed?19. Are details of mitigation implementation incorporated? Monitoring measures 20. Are appropriate environmental monitoring measures proposed?21. Areenvironmentalmonitoringprogrammescommittedbyrelevantbodies? Communication and presentation 22. Are EIA reports informative for decision-makers?23. Are maps of habitat sensitivity included?24. Are appropriate references and consultants involved incorporated? H.A. Naser / Ocean & Coastal Management 104 (2015) 159 e 169 162  resources, facilitating planning and managementof coastal areas inBahrain,informingdecisionmakerswiththreatstobiodiversityandecosystems, and achieving ecologically sustainable developmentsin coastal and marine environments in Bahrain.The third part was devised to examine the extent to which theexperts in EIA agreed or disagreed with statements related toconstraints that may restrict the effectiveness of EIA in Bahrain.These constraints or barriers wereformulated based on the generalshortcomings of EIA that are recognized in most of the developingcountries (El-Fadl and El-Fadel, 2004; Naser, 2012). These short-comings include inadequate legislations, limited guidelines inprocedural EIAorecological assessment, late implantationof EIA inthe project cycle, inadequate consideration of alternatives, limitedinvolvement of public, limited in 󿬂 uence of EIA in decision-makingand limited integration of EIA in higher-level policy-making. 3. Results  3.1. Key  󿬁 ndings of EIA review 3.1.1. Overall quality of reviewed EIA reports The quality index ratings of the reviewed EIA reports in thisstudy indicated that 35% of the reports were assessed as satisfac-toryorgoodquality(0.51 e 1.0)comparedwith65%ofunsatisfactoryor borderline quality (0.0 e 0.5) (Fig. 2). However, there were vari-ations in the extent to which the review areas and their attributeswere met between the reviewed EIA reports.  3.1.2. Description of existing ecological environment likely to beaffected The zone of in 󿬂 uence of dredging and reclamation projectscould extend beyond the speci 󿬁 ed dredged or reclaimed areas dueto sedimentation and erosion. Therefore, the spatial boundaries of the baseline ecological studies should include surrounding areasthat are directly or indirectly affected by dredging and reclamationactivities. However, the spatial boundaries of assessment andecological studies were only limited to the actual footprints of theprojects in all of the reviewed EIA reports.Typically ecological survey will identify the main habitat typesand their associated biological communities that might be affectedby the project. Although all of the reviewed EIA reports conductedecological surveys, the comprehensiveness of these survey tech-niques in providing full picture about the affected biological com-munities was variable. The majority (60%) of the reviewed EIAreports used both quantitative semi-quantitative survey methods.The  󿬁 rst method involved sampling of   󿬂 ora and fauna in the  󿬁 eldand subsequent microscopic sorting and taxonomic identi 󿬁 cationin the laboratory. The second method relied on the estimation of the percentage cover of major biotopes such as seagrass meadowsandalgalmatsorpresenceofkeystoneorganisms.Onlytworeports(10%) quantitatively characterized the major biotopes and theirassociated assemblages. The remaining 30% of the reviewed EIAreports adopted only semi-quantitative approach, which was re- 󿬂 ected on the poor quality of the baseline data. These reportsmainly adopted the ecological descriptions of the affected areasfrom the pioneer work of  Vousden (1988). This valuable technicalreport documents the ecological status of marine environment inBahrain in the early 1980s. However, coastal and marine environ-ments in Bahrain have remarkably been transformed and in 󿬂 u-enced by dredging and reclamation as well as pollution in the pasttwo decades. Therefore, the baseline information provided in thereviewed EIA reports might not necessarily re 󿬂 ect the currentecological status in the Bahraini coastal and marine environments.Roughtaxonomicresolutionandcrypticidenti 󿬁 cationofspeciesmay restrict the effectiveness of the ecological assessment process.Approximately 90% of the reviewed EIA reports provided coarsetaxonomic resolutions for macrobenthic assemblages. The short-ages of taxonomic guides and keys related to macrobenthos of theArabian Gulf were re 󿬂 ected in the reviewed EIA reports. Forinstance, while an EIA report identi 󿬁 ed 31 species out of 115benthic organisms, another EIA report only identi 󿬁 ed 30 speciesout of 407 benthic organisms.  3.1.3. Determination of the importance of valued ecosystemcomponents Bahraini seagrass beds, coral reefs,mangrove swamps, sand andmud 󿬂 ats, and designated marine protected areas are valuedecosystem components that are at risk from the intensive dredgingand reclamation activities. Additionally, Bahraini territorial watershosts some of the world's most critically endangered species suchas dugongs, dolphins, and turtles. In addition to their intrinsicbiological value, these ecosystems and species represent importanteconomic, recreational, educational and cultural values. While 85%of the reviewed EIA reports mentioned the designated marineprotected areas in Bahrain, only two of these reports described theimpacts that arelikely tointerferewith the conservation objectivesof these marine protected areas. Similarly, 85% of the reviewed EIAreports re 󿬂 ected on the general importance of seagrass and coralecosystems. However, only  󿬁 ve of these reports described fully thegoods and services of these ecosystems. It is important to describeendemic or endangered species that could be affected by dredgingand reclamation activities. Only two reports provided suf  󿬁 cientinformation related to endemic Socotra cormorant, and engen-dered marine mammals that could be affected by the proposedprojects. Avifauna populations were fully investigated in 55% of thereviewedEIAreportswiththeirconservationstatusfullydescribed.  3.1.4. Identi  󿬁 cation and evaluation of impacts The direct potential impacts of dredging and reclamation wereidenti 󿬁 ed and described in all the reviewed EIA reports. However,40% of the reviewed EIA reports failed to address how these directpotential impacts could affect the species and habitats of theproject areas. Only two EIA reports fully described the physical,chemicalandbiologicalimpactsofdredgingandreclamationonthemarine environment. These EIA reports quanti 󿬁 ed the loss of habitats and their associated assemblages due to dredging andreclamation activities. For example, one EIA report indicated thataround 1.3 km 2 of seagrass meadows and macroalgal beds will belost due to dredging activities, and 4.98 km 2 of mud 󿬂 ats and0.019 km 2 of live corals will be buried as a result of reclamationprocess.The signi 󿬁 cance of the impacts was addressed in 70% of thereviewedEIA reports, while in theremaining30% of thereports thesigni 󿬁 cance was described only super 󿬁 cially. Indeed a particular Fig. 2.  Percentages of reviewed EIA reports distributed over the four groups of thequality index. H.A. Naser / Ocean & Coastal Management 104 (2015) 159 e 169  163
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