Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 5 June 2020

UAE’s seasonal ban on encircling nets begins on Friday

The national ban runs until November 1, while in Abu Dhabi the technique is banned entirely

Men make fishing nets at Jumeirah fishing harbour in late March during the temporary closure of the Dubai fish market. Reem Mohammed / The National
Men make fishing nets at Jumeirah fishing harbour in late March during the temporary closure of the Dubai fish market. Reem Mohammed / The National

A seasonal ban on fishing of pelagic fish with encircling nets comes into effect on Friday, May 1, until October 31.

Most large fish are pelagic, which means they do not stay near the seabed. Pelagic species in the UAE include kingfish, tuna, queenfish, yellowtail scad and barracuda.

The Ministerial Decree, issued in late 2019, allows licensed fishermen and fishing companies to use encircling nets to catch pelagic fish from November 1 to April 30. The nets can be 1.1 kilometres long and up to 20 metres wide in the Arabian Gulf, and 28 metres in the Sea of Oman. That is about the length of six Range Rovers, back to back.

Abu Dhabi banned surface fishing nets because they are easily lost at sea. The synthetic nets never disintegrate and easily entrap whales, dolphins, dugongs, turtles and fish.

The emirate’s 2018 fishing net ban had an immediate effect on marine life and halved the dugong mortality rate in one season.

The use of banned fishing gear is punishable by fines of up to Dh50,000 and jail for first-time offenders.

Diving instructors and environmental activists have said monitoring fishing practices is difficult and abandoned fishing equipment has devastated the country’s marine life.

The UN Environment Programme estimates that between 600,000 and 800,000 metric tonnes of dumped nets enter the world’s oceans each year.

Updated: May 4, 2020 10:27 PM

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