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A group of high-level experts from Aqaba, Jordan, visited PAP/RAC on 13-17 October 2014 to discuss issues related to Marine Spatial Planning. The group was joined by several international experts. The visit was arranged through the UNDP GEF project "Mainstreaming marine biodiversity conservation into coastal zone management in the Aqaba Special Economic Zone".
The Gulf of Aqaba is the only exit of Jordan to the sea and its area is characterised by high concentration of population and tourism facilities and, above all, several ports that serve Jordan as well as a number of neighbouring countries. In addition, the Gulf of Aqaba is a biodiversity hot spot containg highly valuable coral reef areas. Although parts of the area are protected as Jordan's only Marine National Park, the coral reefs extend throughout the entire 27 km of the Jordanian coast, its existence often being endangered by other activities.
The GEF project aims, among other, to prepare a Marine Spatial Plan which will harmonize numerous activities in its restricted marine area of 96 km2. The experts discussed the methodology of the preparation of marine spatial plans, its benefits and expected results. During the visit, the Jordanian experts visitied several localities in Croatia where similar coastal and marine management problems exist.