A fisherman at Mina Fishing Harbour in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

DUBAI: The annual fishing and trade ban on sharks, Arabian safi (emperor) and sheri (rabbitfish) will come into effect from March 1, coinciding with the spawning season of the fish.

Imposed by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MoCCAE, Ministerial Resolution No. 43 of 2019 regulating shark fishing and trade states that the ban will continue until June 30. The resolution allows fishermen who run registered lynch boats to fish sharks from July 1 of each year until the last day of February of the following year.

Moreover, the Ministerial Decision No. 501 of 2015 that regulates the fishing and trade of Arabian safi and sheri prohibits the fishing of the two species and any trade in their local and imported byproducts in the UAE markets until April 30. It also bans their import and re-export in any form, whether fresh, frozen, salted, smoked or packed during this time.

Halima Al Jasmi, head of the Fisheries Section at MoCCAE, said, “Regulating the fishing sector is crucial to its long-term sustainability. The two decisions align with the ministry’s strategic goal of enhancing food diversity, as they help sustain the population of these species by giving them time to reproduce.”

The Ministerial Resolution No. 43 of 2019 is an effective tool for alleviating the pressure on sharks due to overfishing and habitat degradation. In addition to the seasonal ban, it imposes a permanent ban on fishing shark species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and the Federal Law No. 23 of 1999 concerning the exploitation, protection and development of living aquatic resources in the UAE and its amendments.

Prohibition on fin trade

The import and re-export of shark fins, fresh, frozen, dried, salted, smoked, canned, or in any other form , is also permanently prohibited, excluding fins that are imported for scientific purposes upon approval of the ministry. The resolution also bans pleasure vessels from fishing sharks.

Similarly, the Ministerial Decision No. 501 of 2015 has proven effective in boosting the populations of Arabian safi and sheri despite high consumer demand.

MoCCAE has joined forces with federal and local stakeholders, including fishermen societies, to ensure compliance with the two decisions by running awareness campaigns and workshops.