The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MoCCAE, has issued Ministerial Resolution No.82 of 2019, which bans the use of gargoor nets in Abu Dhabi effective 1st May 2019.
The move is part of a comprehensive plan to ensure the protection and recovery of fisheries in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and in line with the recommendations, studies, and monitoring programmes of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, EAD.
The Resolution comes in response to the recent results of the Fisheries Resources Assessment Survey, FRAS, that was conducted by EAD, in partnership with the ministry as part of the UAE National Fisheries Programme, to assess the state of Abu Dhabi’s fish stocks.
The survey revealed that the demersal fish stock is vulnerable to high deterioration; the Hamour (Orange-spotted Grouper) and Farsh (Painted Sweetlips) have witnessed a significant decline to 10 percent of their adult (reproductive) stock size and are overexploited by up to five times the sustainable limit.
The decision requires all fishermen who are registered with MoCCAE to suspend the use of gargoor nets in the waters of Abu Dhabi before 1st May, 2019, the day the resolution begins to be enforced. The ban excludes all gargoor nets used on boats registered with the Ministry and approved by EAD for research and scientific study purposes.
Over the past 18 years, the EAD, the local authority mandated to protect the Emirate’s environment and biodiversity, has conducted comprehensive studies to assess the status of the fish stocks of some of the most important commercial species in Abu Dhabi and the UAE. This research has shown that many major species have witnessed a significant decline during this period, despite the agency's strong efforts to sustainably manage and protect the fisheries.
The results of the Fisheries Resources Assessment Survey, which was a major component of the National Fisheries Programme, indicates that immediate measures need to be taken to protect the fish stocks from over-fishing, so that we ensure that they are able to recover and develop sustainably to reach the internationally-benchmarked threshold of sustainable fish stocks.
EAD is seeking to raise the proportion of fish that are caught sustainably to 70 percent through strict measures to achieve sustainable fisheries and reach levels in line with the UAE National Biodiversity Action Plan 2014 – 2021.
According to studies conducted by EAD, gargoor nets target major and highly-exploited species such as Hamour (Epinephelus coioides), Shaari (Lethrinus nebulosus) and Farsh (Diagramma pictum). In 2017, these species’ landing catch was more than 75 percent of the total catch via gargoor nets.
A 2016 study assessing underwater clean-ups has revealed that there are an estimated10 abandoned gargoor nets present on the seabed. These gargoor nets then trap fish and other marine life in a phenomenon known as ‘ghost fishing’, which threatens fish stocks and impacts vital marine ecosystems.
EAD has implemented several measures and initiatives to promote efforts towards achieving sustainable fisheries in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.