x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Fewer illegal fish seized thanks to campaign

Seizures of undersized fish have decreased in the last month because of a campaign against illegally catching small fish and because of hotter weather, officials say.

DUBAI // Only five kilograms of premature fish from 14 species deemed illegal by authorities were seized last month - down from 890kg taken in March and April.

The reduction in undersized fish seizures follows Dubai Municipality's launch of a campaign to combat dwindling fish stocks.

The campaign aims to stop the decline of species such as hammour and gish. Netting or selling undersized fish from the 14 protected varieties is illegal.

"Our campaign is working," said Adnan Al Jallaf, head of the animal products monitoring section at the food control department.

He said the reduction in illegal fish seizures was also due to the weather.

"There is a shortage in yield now. In summer, most small fish go to the bottom of the sea. They don't stay on the surface because of the heat. They will start coming up by September or October," he said.

Errant traders face a Dh1,000 fine. This could increase and lead to closures for repeat offences.

The Dubai Fishermen's Cooperative Association said fines might not help. Mohammed Al Marri, the chairman, said: "We have to educate [fishermen] ... that they may not have them tomorrow if we fish them today when they are small."

pkannan@thenational.ae