Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 30 September 2020

Environment

Abu Dhabi authorities take strong action over illegal oyster trade

Offenders have been warned they could be jailed or face heavy fines for breaching regulations

Action is being taken to tackle illegal oyster trade in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy: Environment Agency Abu Dhabi
Action is being taken to tackle illegal oyster trade in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy: Environment Agency Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi authorities are stepping up efforts to combat the illegal oyster trade after warning offenders they could face jail time and heavy fines of up to Dh100,000.

The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) joined forces with the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority to snare poachers and rogue businesses selling unsourced shellfish in a two-month operation.

Ten fish trading facilities were inspected in Abu Dhabi city along with ten other facilities in Al Dhafra Region, including Delma Island.

Three illegal oyster extractions were discovered at Al Salamiyah area and Bu Sayayif marine reserve during the joint initiative, held in August and September.

It is prohibited to extract oysters, sponges and coral reefs

Ahmed Al Hashmi

Five shops received a final warning for offering the local oysters – known as Al Doug - to the public without providing records and documents that identify their source, an offence punishable with a fine of at least Dh10,000.

Ahmed Al Hashmi, acting executive director of the terrestrial and marine biodiversity Sector at EAD, said those caught breaching regulations could be imprisoned for a minimum term of six months and fined up to Dh100,000 for illegally catching oysters.

“It is prohibited to extract oysters, sponges and coral reefs except with permission and we don’t issue any permissions for that purpose in the emirate,” said Mr Al Hashmi.

“Al Doug clams are part of the food chain of some fish species and sea birds.

“Therefore, it is very important to protect the clams and similar seashells and prevent any illegal extracting as they play an important part in the ecosystem.”

Mr Al Hashmi said that the inspections were launched as part of efforts to protect natural resources.

“Inspectors also found that some shops were selling Al Doug clams without documents showing the source of product and if it was imported from outside the emirate,” he said.

“That is also against the law and can put the consumer's health at risk as the source is unknown.”

Two breaches were reported for using prohibited fishing nets made out of nylon.

EAD officials said the clamp down on illegal activities in the emirate's waters will continue.

Updated: September 19, 2020 10:48 AM

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