x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Fisherman needs all hands on deck

Hardworking Asian fishermen help keep industry afloat.

UMM AL QUWAIN // When you are working out at sea for days on end, it does not matter where your shipmates come from, just that they pitch in, says one local seaman.

Saeed Ahmed, an Emirati, does not have a problem working with Indian and Bangladeshi fishermen. He regards it as a chance to learn from others and share a job that not everyone is willing or able to do.

"These men are very helpful," he said. "They help out with some work that Emiratis don't want to do."

Fishing takes a lot of strength - both physical and mental - and finding people who are up to the task is not always easy.

"The fishing nets or fishing cages are heavy," Mr Ahmed said. "Getting them into the sea or pulling them back onto the boat when they are full of fish takes three to four men."

That his Asian shipmates are willing to work for wages at which most Emiratis would baulk keeps Mr Ahmed from going out of business.

"You cannot rely on Emiratis alone to push and pull out the fishing net or cage - how much are you going to pay them?" he asked.

"Like all other professions, the Asian people help to do some work at affordable wages so that I can keep in the business."

Mr Ahmed said that while most people who went to sea were expatriates, the UAE's fishing boats were always captained by Emiratis.

"The law is very clear on this. Every boat going to the sea for fishing must have an Emirati on it," he said.

ykakande@thenational.ae