x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Four-month ban and rough seas means fish stocks are down

Ban on fishing runs from March until June to help replenish stocks in UAQ creek.

SHARJAH // Rough weather at sea and the annual four-month ban on fishing in Umm Al Quwain Creek has led to fish stocks running low and prices almost doubling at the emirate's markets.

Traders and fishermen are struggling to meet demand with high seas keeping boats in port and the ban on creek fishing, which runs from March to June.

Some market stalls were empty this week, while those with fish were selling at higher than usual prices.

The local sherry fish, usually available for about Dh70 a kilogram, was priced at Dh130 a kg, hammour cost Dh160 a kg instead of Dh100 a kg, jaish was up from Dh30 a kg to Dh70 a kg, and biya from Dh25 a kg to Dh45 a kg.

"There are customers and I have no stock," said trader Haroun Abdul Aziz. "Most of the time I have a lot of fish and there are no buyers, but now a lot of people are coming in the morning and evening to buy at any price."

Mr Abdul Aziz's stall had less than 15kg of kanad and sherry fish for sale.

The high prices are putting off some regular shoppers at the market. "It's not worth it to buy anything double its price simply because the supply is down," said a resident called Mohammed, who was bypassing the fish market and heading to a butcher's shop.

"Authorities have to come out and regulate these prices, even in times of severe shortages."

But officials at the Fishermen's Association said they were expecting an increase in the supply once the seasons change.

"Fishing is always affected by the weather and rough seasons always bring shortages in catches and supply to markets," said Hussein Al Hajri, the association's president.

The annual ban on fishing in UAQ Creek was introduced to help replenish stocks.

"About 320 fishermen are affected by the ban. They expected to instead go and fish in the wider sea," said fisherman Abdul Karim Mohammed.

"The study was sponsored by the UAQ Government out of concern to preserve the fishing industry. We are implementing it on the orders of the Government."

ykakande@thenational.ae