x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Wildlife groups want you to look carefully at catch of the day

Wildlife protection associations are urging consumers to be picky when buying fish in a bid to preserve some of the overfished species.

Wildlife protection associations are urging consumers to be picky when choosing fish for dinner in a bid to preserve some of the country's overfished species. The Emirates Wildlife Society (EWS) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) have launched the Choose Wisely campaign, aimed at raising consumer awareness of the deep decline in country's fish populations.

Studies show the number of commercial fish in local waters has fallen by 80 per cent in the past 30 years, the EWS and WWF say. The campaign, which has been endorsed by the Ministry of Environment and Water, urges consumers to eat fish that are less at risk. Consumers can use their guide, which classifies fish species into three colour-coded categories, to make their decisions. For example, hammour, one of the most popular fish in the UAE, has been fished at more than seven times the sustainable level and is classed as red, or "think again".

Faskar, also known as the "two bar seabream", are numerous and are classified as green, or "go for it". Razan Khalifa al Mubarak, the managing director of the EWS, said a joint effort was needed to protect the country's valuable fish resources. "Fish forms an essential part of our marine ecological system, a stable component in our local diet, while fishing constitutes an important part of our cultural heritage," Ms al Mubarak said.

"Many of our forefathers were fishermen, sustaining families and communities from this valuable resource, and bringing tales of the sea to our cultural consciousness and memory. "It has only been over the last three decades, with the commercialising of this sector and habitat destruction, that we have started witnessing an alarming decline in our fish stock." For more information, visit www.choosewisely.ae

aligaya@thenational.ae