DUBAI // Two new species have been added to a list of fish suitable for consumption in the UAE.
The giant sea catfish, locally known as khan, and the yellowtail scad, also known as durduman, were added to the green category of the Emirates Wildlife Society's (EWS) book about fish species and sustainability levels.
It is hoped the additions will help replenish depleted stocks of overfished species.
"We want to focus on the green fish [stocks in good supply] because no one knows about them," said Ida Tillisch, the society's director general.
"Everyone knows the problem fish, so we're hoping with this campaign to enlighten people [about] other fish that are really good for consumption, and focus attention to the green ones."
The catfish, with its sweet taste and flaky texture, can be baked, fried or made into fishcakes.
The yellowtail scad, with its lightly salty taste, is best steamed or fried.
But while consumers are urged to try these fish instead of threatened species such as hammour, some food outlets are still aggravating the situation.
Last week, a Dubai vet counted 140 threatened sharks sold at the Deira fish market so that their fins could be used to make soup.
In the UAE, 60 per cent of the total catch is made up of overfished species, with catches of hammour and kingfish seven times above sustainable levels, the society says. Since 1978, the total decline in stock of some species that live close to the seabed is 95 per cent.
"There is a significant decline in commercial fish - 80 per cent in the past 30 years," Ms Tillisch said. "It's quite a serious issue here and globally."
The society's Choose Wisely Campaign launched in 2010 and offered recipes using "safe" fish.
"The cookbook is one of the main tools of our campaign to get consumers familiar with the fish," Ms Tillisch said. "Some supermarkets even use the book at their fish counter."
EWS also hopes all food outlets will introduce eco-labelling by 2014 to increase awareness of overfishing.