Contraband and surplus fish is to be donated to disadvantaged families to reduce food waste and mark the Year of Zayed as part of the Fish Fridge scheme
Seized fish to be distributed to the underprivileged in Fujairah
Fresh contraband and surplus fish is to be distributed to underprivileged families following an agreement between the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and the Fujairah Charity Association (FCA), which was signed on Wednesday.
The agreement supports the nationwide Fish Fridge campaign, announced in 2017 as part of initiatives to mark the Year of Zayed.
“The ministry will liaise with fishermen’s associations to collect surplus fish as well as fish confiscated by authorities from the fish market every day,” said Sultan Alwan, assistant undersecretary of the regions sector at the ministry.
It is prohibited to sell endangered species or juvenile fish and fishermen are subject to strict licensing regulations in relation to the number of fish caught and the size of their fishing net.
“Authorised personnel will then hand over the fish to the association to distribute it to disadvantaged families on the same day, in accordance with health regulations. Apart from providing nutrient-rich food to those less fortunate, the scheme offers the beneficiaries an opportunity to earn an additional income through preparing ready-to-eat meals and supplying them to restaurants.”
The agreement is in line with the ministry’s strategy to promote social responsibility, charity and optimal use of food.
The Fish Fridge initiative seeks to build unity between charitable institutions across the seven emirates. “Our partnership with the FCA is the first step in this regard,” Mr Alwan said. “Our two organisations will form a joint committee to oversee the implementation of the agreement and coordinate regarding any new developments or requirements for charity work.”
Ali Al Abdooli, director general of FCA, said: “The Fish Fridge initiative is a prime example of an effective food waste reduction campaign that can serve as a model for other food-related schemes. We will use the database of underprivileged families registered with us to distribute the fish received from the ministry.”
The UAE launched similar initiatives earlier this year whereby fish illegally caught by local fishermen and confiscated by authorities were re-distributed to the needy in Ramadan as part of the country’s push to curb food waste.
Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, announced the plan in Dubai last May.
“We started this in March when we banned the fishing of the sheri and safi species,” he said at the time on the sidelines of a pre-Ramadan food waste awareness raising event.
“We knew some fishermen did not adhere to the ministerial decree and they were fishing those two species. So they get confiscated and passed on to associations in Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah to be re-distributed to the right people.”
Although fewer than 10 fishermen were caught catching the banned fish then, the ministry said it hoped to expand the initiative to the rest of the UAE.
Another project it had planned to roll out to tackle food waste was the donation of gardens to 20 schools across all seven emirates.