The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MoCCaE, has confirmed 99 pe rcent compliance of fishermen with Ministerial Decision No. 501 of 2015 on the regulation of fishing and trading of Arabian sheri (emperor fish) and safi (rabbitfish) during the breeding season.
This year, the nation-wide compliance levels improved by one percent overall, compared to 98 percent in 2016, indicating increased awareness and continued commitment among fishermen to the federal legislation for the protection and development of fisheries and promotion of sustainability.
Saif Mohammed Al-Shara, Assistant Under-Secretary of the External Audit Sector at MoCCaE, said, "Following the implementation of the Ministerial Decree, our department held 11 workshops and a briefing for 55 local authority officials in charge of supervision and inspection of the markets at the Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority, CICPA, in Abu Dhabi."
Subsequently, the ministry carried out 314 joint audit visits with local authorities, as well as 21 visits to fishing boat checkpoints overseen by CICPA.
Volunteers from the ranks of university and technical college students attended auditing workshops and participated in 50 field visits to fish markets for the first time this year in collaboration with the UAE Youth Council. MoCCaE also launched an awareness campaign to discourage the public from consuming sheri and safi fish during the breeding season. The campaign featured prominently in newspapers as well as on the website of the ministry and its social media platforms, as well as on those of local authorities and stakeholders.
Al-Shara said, "In conjunction with CICPA, we inspected 5,308 units, including major fish markets, landing sites, shops, import and export companies, checkpoints and boats, across the UAE. The 40 violations detected were penalised in accordance with Cabinet Resolution No. 18 of 2012 regarding the application of administrative penalties on violators of living aquatic resources and fisheries."
First-time offenders received a written warning, while a second violation was subject to a fine of AED2,000. In the event of a third violation, the culprits had their fishing licenses suspended, and the offending stores were closed for one week. In all cases, the fish were confiscated.
Al-Shara praised the efforts of the strategic partners in implementing the ministerial decision. The Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi included links to the sheri and safi conservation campaign on their websites, and distributed copies of the Decree to raise awareness across fish markets and outlets in Abu Dhabi.
Dubai Municipality printed and distributed posters and booklets on the permitted weights and lengths of sheri and safi, and supplied fish length measurement equipment to major markets and fish-selling outlets.
In collaboration with the ministry, the Jubail Fish Market in Sharjah held a forum for young people on the importance of protecting sheri and safi fish species and put up educational posters at its premises.
The Municipality of Dibba Al Hisn also organised a forum on the subject and displayed billboards at border crossings announcing a temporary ban on the export and import of sheri and safi.
The overfishing of certain species is one of the main reasons for the fish stock decline in the UAE. Ministerial Decision No. 501 of 2015 regulating the fishing and trading of sheri and safi during the breeding season is an important step towards protecting and enhancing the fish stocks in the country.