Dubai: The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) has banned shark fishing from Thursday to June 30, coinciding with their breeding season.
Salah Abdullah Al Raisi, director of the Fisheries Sustainability Department at MOCCAE, said the ban aims to reduce the risks faced by the rare species of sharks. He noted that sharks play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy habitat by ‘cleaning up’ the reefs and preying on weak and sick fish populations, keeping coral reefs free of disease and other fish healthy and strong.
“UAE waters are home to as many as 30 shark species, which are classified as endangered or critically endangered. Illegal fishing practices, global spread of unethical and uncontrolled fishing methods, as well as the rise of the shark fin trade, are putting some shark species on the edge of extinction. Global efforts must be intensified to prevent that from happening,” Al Raisi stressed. Ministerial Decree No. 500 for 2014 limits the hunting of sharks in fishing waters not less than five nautical miles from the shores of the UAE and not less than three nautical miles from the islands of the UAE. This will prevent fishing of sharks for their fins and thwart the practice of throwing their bodies back into the sea. The regulation states that sharks must be brought fully into the port. It also aims to prevent the trading of live sharks caught in the fishing waters of the UAE unless a special permit is obtained from the ministry.
It prevents fishing species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which also states that these species must be carefully released back into the sea when they are accidentally caught in the fishing equipment.
The decree allows fishermen who are running boats with lynch, a tool with several hooks at the end of its edges, to catch sharks from July 1 of each year until the end of January of the following year using hooks, as long as they do not exceed 100 hooks per lynch. The hooks should be curved and biodegradable.
The import of sharks — fresh, frozen, dried, salted, smoked or canned, or in any other form — is also allowed by the issued decree. The shipments must be accompanied with the original certificate of source of origin related for each shipment, stating the scientific name and quantity of each type. It should also have the original health certificate, commercial invoice, and the packing list for each shipment.
In cases of importation of shark species enumerated in CITES, namely sawfish (Pristidae spp), whale shark (Rhincodon typus), great hammerhead (Sphyrna mokarran), scalloped hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini), smooth hammerhead (Sphyrna zygaena), oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharinus longimanus), porbeagle (lamna nasus), basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus), great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias), and manta rays (Manta spp), an export or re-export certificate from the administrative authority in the exporting country and an import valid certificate issued by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment must be secured. Companies are not permitted to export sharks caught in the fishing waters of the UAE — whether fresh, frozen, dried or salted, smoked or canned, or in any other form — throughout the year.
In case of re-export of shark species in the annexes of the CITES, additional documents such as the re-export certificate issued by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment for these shark species need to be submitted, in addition to prior authorisation of the importing country for re-export of same shark species to prevent the re-export of shark fins from that state.