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UAE ban on Al Badah great move, says official

Gulf fish at risk if no regulation

Gulf News

Dubai: Marine life in the Gulf is threatened if fishing is not regulated, especially at this time of the year, the fishermen’s cooperative association chairman said.

Major General Mohammad Al Merri, chairman of the Fishermen’s Cooperative Association of Dubai, said if fishing is not regulated and fishermen only think of the day’s catch and not the future, marine life in the Gulf is at risk.

“I won’t say that hamour or a specific fish is at risk , but all fish are at risk if no one regulates fishing and fishermen over-fish,” Al Merri said.

This time of the year, Al Merri explained, is peak time for fish mating and many fish, including Al Badah, develop roe (mass of internal eggs).

“Fish of different species also tend to flock to areas in large numbers to breed, and this is a golden period for fishermen as it is easy to catch large quantities of fish. They should not abuse these opportunities and should fish responsibly.”

For example, he said, a kilo of shaari fish was sold for Dh35 last month, but this month it has gone down to Dh10-Dh15, because of its availability in large numbers during this season.

Al Badah is popular for its roe, especially in Abu Dhabi, as eating it is part of their tradition, Al Merri said, adding that during this period there is a demand for it.

“It was a great initiative from the Ministry of Environment in Abu Dhabi to ban Al Badah fishing during this period so the fish can reproduce and I think other emirates should follow in Abu Dhabi’s footsteps,” Al Merri noted.

He also suggested that ministry should ban fishing in certain areas during this season in order to preserve the gulf fisheries. “I am not saying completely ban fishing during this period, but just certain areas, in order to preserve fish stocks and maintain balance in the marine life.”

Al Merri said that almost 70 per cent of the fish in the UAE is imported and the rest is locally fished. “There is no clear preference in imported or local fish, all the fish have buyers.”

According to statistics of the association, 650-700 tonnes of fish enter the Dubai fish market daily, Al Merri said.