x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Sharjah gets tough on anglers in top tourist spots

Fishing restrictions have been in place for several years, but will be strictly enforced from now on.

The Sharjah municipality has vowed to get tough on anyone caught fishing in popular tourist spots in the emirate.
The Sharjah municipality has vowed to get tough on anyone caught fishing in popular tourist spots in the emirate.

SHARJAH // A ban on fishing at some of Sharjah's most popular tourist spots is to be strictly enforced from now on.

Although restrictions have officially been in effect for several years, areas such as the Corniche and Al Qasba strip remain popular with anglers.

But the municipality has vowed to get tough on anyone caught fishing, either to sell to local markets or as a hobby.

"These places are for tourists to enjoy and fishing around them tarnishes this," said Sultan Al Mualla, Sharjah Municipality's director general.

He said the emirate had enough designated areas along its coastline and waterfront to cater to professionals and amateurs alike.

"Our target is not to deny hobbyists their right, but to ensure each group undertakes it in the right place," Mr Al Mualla added.

Many of the fishermen found at the banks of the Corniche last week said they did not know fishing had been banned there.

"I just do it as a hobby and to kill boredom," said George Misso, a Filipino.

A group of Bangladeshi fishermen were alarmed to discover their favourite pastime was outlawed and municipal inspectors would be looking out for them.

"We are doing this for a living but we don't sell the fish," said one man. "All the fish we get from here is for our own food. Fish is an essential dish but we can't afford to go to the market to buy it."

Despite the municipality's tough stance, it will not impose fines on anyone caught breaking the rule. Instead they will be asked to pack up their gear and move on.

The move comes amid concerns about dwindling fish numbers in Sharjah's creek.

In Umm Al Quwain, a ban on fishing in the creek from March to July has been in place for six years. The seasonal ban came about after a study showed most fish in the area spawned between those months.

The type of fish being caught and nets used was also carefully monitored throughout the year.

Last week, fishermen along Sharjah's Corniche were reeling in large numbers of small and young fish. "It's not about the size, age or months of these fish," said one Bangladeshi fisherman. "The municipality don't want us to fish and eat this fish whether it is big or small."

ykakande@thenational.ae