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Mariam bint Mohammed Al Mheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, talking to Emirati fisherman Abdullah bin Rabee who helped save stranded whale shark Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) recognised Emirati fisherman Abdullah bin Rabee, who helped release a whale shark that had become stranded on a Khor Fakkan beach in February 2022.

The fisherman had helped return the stranded endangered fish to deep waters with the help of a group of fishermen, and was, therefore, honoured by Mariam bint Mohammed Al Mheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, for his efforts.

The recognition came during the during the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment’s (MOCCAE) first meeting of 2023 with the fisherman’s association.

In a statement, the MOCCAE said bin Rabee’s act had had a positive environmental impact, and reflected the level of awareness among the community about the need for preserving aquatic life.

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Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, honours Emirati fisherman who helps save stranded whale shark Supplied

The meeting also saw Al Mheiri presenting the Ministry’s vision for supporting fishermen to develop fisheries wealth as a key enabler of food security in the UAE, while also tackling possible solutions to the challenges faced by fishermen.

Fishing craft

“[Fishermen play a prominent role] in promoting the UAE’s historical fishing craft, which is a key pillar of the country’s national food security. With their efforts and full cooperation with MOCCAE, fishermen contribute significantly to fisheries development and sustainability, now and in the future. We have made a lot of efforts recently to support fishermen at all levels and are pleased to share that with the fishermen’s associations today,” Al Mheiri said.

“Fishing that takes into account all environmental dimensions, and is an important pillar to enhance the UAE’s efforts to achieve sustainability and fulfil its climate and environmental obligations to the world. This is especially important in light of the UAE’s declaration of 2023 as the year of sustainability, and its hosting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 28). The Ministry is keen to improve fishing in all emirates of the country and will translate this into reality through more efforts during the coming period,” she added.

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Mariam bint Mohammed Al Mheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, honouring Emirati fisherman Abdullah bin Rabee who helped save stranded whale shark

Fishermen meeting

Held at the headquarters of the Fujairah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the meeting also saw the attendance of Dr Mohammed Salman Al Hammadi, undersecretary of the biodiversity and aquatic life sector at the MOCCAE, and several representatives of fishermen’s associations from Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah, Kalba, Fujairah, Bidiyah, as well as the Northern Emirates Fishermen Cooperative Association.

“The Ministry spares no effort in supporting fishermen’s associations in the various emirates of the country, as they represent the all the fishermen in the country, and we work in cooperation with these associations in order to find solutions to the various challenges that fishermen may face through many initiatives. The procedures and decisions that contribute to facilitating fishing activities, and in line with the state’s directions towards enhancing food security and preserving the environment. This supports its sustainability as an authentic food resource on the table of everyone who lives in the UAE,” Dr Al Hammadi said.

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Role of fishermen

“The MOCCAE exerted many efforts during the past period towards strengthening the role of fishermen, identifying their problems, and working to solve them within the framework of partnership with all concerned authorities in all emirates of the country”. She shed light on the Ministry’s field visit to the Northern Regions Association, in addition to the most prominent achievements made last year. These achievements included setting up a system for renewing fishing boat licenses that have expired for long periods of time, launching maintenance and protection of fishing ports, in addition to changing the support provided to marine engines, increasing and diversifying the power of engines,” he added.

Tackling issues

Al Hammadi also referred to the issues being worked on by the Ministry, including reconsidering the decision on violations, and coordination with the Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority to rescue fishermen at sea when necessary and regarding equipment malfunctions. He discussed other areas of focus, including the impact of water desalination inside the sea on the marine environment and living aquatic resources, regulations restricting the import of fish in the breeding seasons, amendments on the specifications of the traditional fishing nets, and regulations on net operation and submission season.

The MOCCAE holds periodic meetings with fishermen’s associations in the various emirates of the country. The meetings discuss the needs of fishermen, their conditions, concerns, and their most important demands regarding the fishing profession.