Dubai: New deepwater fish traps in the UAE called gargoor will be equipped with GPS, underwater cameras and sensors to reduce lost harvest amid dwindling fish stocks, officials said on Tuesday.
Rolled out as part of UAE Innovation Week, a prototype Smart Gargoor — the first national electronic fish trap system of its kind in the world — was unveiled in Dubai by Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd, Minister of Environment and Water.
The high-tech harvester was introduced to dignitaries by Mariam Mohammad Saeed Hareb, Assistant Undersecretary at the Water Resources and Nature Conservation Affairs Department of the ministry.
For more than a century, traditional gargoor were fashioned by fishermen into a half-globe-shaped underwater fish net of sorts using palm leaves to include a small entrance to lure fish, very much like lobster traps used the world over.
Tracking modern UAE gargoor should improve commercial fishing considerably and protect fish as fewer fish traps will be lost to the deep and their quarry with them.
Bin Fahd told Gulf News that the ministry’s innovative Smart Gargoor project is the latest in a string of new measures, such as recent fishing bans on some species of commercial fish, to allow them to recover from overfishing.
“Hopefully, through this innovation, we can do a lot to preserve our marine life. We can make this technology usable and practical. I am thankful to my team for their thinking,” Bin Fahd said in an interview.
“We are already in a dangerous zone with our fish stocks. Hopefully, this will help the industry become healthier and more sustainable.”
The Smart Gargoor fish trap prototype will be released in Umm Al Quwain next week for a trial, said Mariam in an interview.
“We have a problem in the UAE that the fisherman using traditional fishing methods for over 100 years lose the traps which become graves. It attracts other fish to come in [to feed on dead fish inside]. It spoils the marine environment,” Mariam said.
“We thought ‘how can we make the gargoor more sustainable?’ So we came up with this first innovation of its kind in the UAE. There is no other project that is similar to this,” she said. “It can tell you the biomass, the weight of the fish, and also the species.”
Not only will the new traps modernise the commercial fishing industry, it will also help fisheries regulators monitor and control the seasonal harvest every year.
“This is extremely interesting from all points; you’re collecting data, you know where the gargoor is being deployed, you know whether the fisherman is in a protected area or not. You have much more control protecting the marine environment and fish biomass.”
Mariam said the smart gargoor is powered with its own independent mobile battery.
Data is collected in real time and is sent automatically to the Environment Ministry as well as to the fishermen on the surface who can use their smartphones or laptops via an app to precisely count how many fish are in the trap.
The new gargoor project was one of five new innovative projects announced yesterday by the ministry, including Green Legacy, Beautiful in Wild, Emirates Nature Reserves and Monitor and Control in Masdar City.