x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

UAQ fishing ban lifted as stocks replenish

The ban, which has been in place every year for the past six years, will lead to bigger catches once fishing gets under way, said the president of the Umm Al Quwain Fishermen's Association.

Fishermen return to port in Umm Al Quwain to sell their catch at a fish market.
Fishermen return to port in Umm Al Quwain to sell their catch at a fish market.

SHARJAH // Fishing has resumed in Umm Al Quwain creek after the annual four-month ban to protect stocks was lifted yesterday.

The ban, which has been in place every year for the past six years, will lead to bigger catches once fishing gets under way, said Hussein Al Hajri, president of the Umm Al Quwain Fishermen's Association.

Traditionally, fishing is tougher in the summer as stocks migrate to cooler waters, making them harder to find. This means smaller catches and higher prices for consumers. Being able to work the creek means a ready supply of cheap fish for market.

"Only Emiratis licensed to fish in the creek would be allowed to do their fishing there for the next eight months," said Mr Al Hajri. "About 150 fishermen have already got this licence."

The Dh30 licence, which is not needed for coastal fishing, restricts which type of fish can be caught and which nets can be used.

The association is working with the emirate's police to check the licences of people fishing on the creek.

Abdul Karim Mohammed, former president of the association, said the idea of a seasonal ban came about after a study showed most fish in the area spawned between March and July.

"The study was sponsored by the UAQ government out of concern to preserve the fishing industry," Mr Mohammed said. "We are implementing it on the orders of the government."

There were only a few fishermen on the creek yesterday but more are expected to head to the water this week, Mr Mohammed said.

Samii Ahmed, a fisherman, said the policy had helped to improve the industry by giving young fish enough time to grow and allowing stocks to recover.

"In summer a lot of fish in the sea migrate to other cooler areas and fishing there is quite hard," he said. "Once the creek is opened we are mostly reliant on the fish in the creek as they hardly migrate."

Traders in UAQ's fish market were also expecting big catches to be brought in now that the ban has been lifted.

"The recent shortages have been threatening because customers don't buy fish when it is expensive," said Sajid Ali, a fish seller. "Once the creek is reopened, fishermen can have more extra catches to meet the market demand here."

The price of fish in the market has risen in the past month.

Sherry fish, which is usually priced at Dh30 a kilogram, now costs Dh70, while kanad has risen to Dh60 a kilogram from Dh30, biya to Dh35 from Dh20, and jaish to Dh50 from Dh30.

ykakande@thenational.ae