The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, EAD, in partnership with Mariam Hareb Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, has released the first batch of economically-important and over-exploited fish species into Abu Dhabi waters. The fish, which were produced by the Aquaculture Centre and Marine Studies on Abu Al Abyad Island, were released to boost fish stocks and enhance the country's food security.
The release was part of EAD’s Fish Stock Enhancement Programme, which includes releasing various species such as Hamour (Epinephelus coioides), Shaari (Lethrinus nebulosus), Qabit (Rhabdosargus sarba) and others, produced at different aquaculture centres in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The released fish were fitted with small tags carrying a phone number for reporting in case caught. This will assist researchers in assessing and monitoring the movements of the fish.
Also present on the occasion were Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Acting Secretary-General of EAD, along with representatives from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.
Almheiri said: "The release of this first batch of fish represents a qualitative addition to our efforts in increasing the natural fish stocks and maintaining economically-important fish production, which is a key factor in the UAE's efforts to achieve food security, where fisheries are a vital source of food in the UAE."
She added: "We, at the Office of Food Security, aim to lead efforts to diversify the sources of fish from natural sources within the Gulf waters and protected areas by promoting research on the sustainability of the marine environment, as well as strengthening the aquaculture sector, which is one of the most vital sectors in food production. The sector can expand and bridge the gap between local production ratios and global patterns of production and consumption of 50 percent of global demand through fish farming. "
"This initiative, launched in cooperation with EAD and the private sector, will contribute to the enhancement of the natural stock of endangered species of local fish, thus contributing to the conservation of biological diversity," the minister added.
For her part, Dr. Al Dhaheri said: "With the quadrupling of the UAE’s population over the past 20 years and a resulting increased demand for seafood and other uses in the maritime domain, the UAE’s fisheries, have come under increasing pressure, as it has around the world."
"Dedicated UAE-wide socioeconomic studies indicate that one of the key pressures on the fishery is the overcapacity of the commercial and recreational fishing sectors – with the most landed demersal species, Hamour, Shaari and Farsh (Diagramma pictum) being overexploited by an estimated five times the sustainable limit. While the pelagic, Kanaad (Scomberomorus commerson), are being overexploited by up to three times the sustainable limit," she explained.