The role of environmental impact assessment in protecting coastal and marine environments in rapidly developing islands: The case of Bahrain, Arabian Gulf
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 110 km2 representing an increase of 14% of the total land area of Bahrain. Recognizing the role of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in protecting environment from degradation and pollution associated with coastal developments, Bahrain formally adopted EIA in its environmental system in 1998. The present study investigated the practice and effectiveness of EIA in protecting coastal and marine environments in Bahrain by reviewing selected EIA reports and soliciting views of EIA experts, consultants, academics and other relevant bodies. Shortcomings in environmental and ecological assessment practices related to coastal and marine developments were recognized and constrains that restrict the effectiveness of EIA in protecting coastal and marine environments in Bahrain were identified. Maintaining a sustainable use of coastal and marine natural resources in Bahrain requires measures to holistically address the interactions among the several dredging and reclamation projects and their additive and cumulative impacts. This could be achieved through enhancing the current practice of EIA process and adopting Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for dredging and reclamation activities.