UMM AL QUWAIN// Amateur fishermen from Dubai and Sharjah are packing up their rods and making the short trip to Umm Al Quwain each weekend to escape a ban on their favourite pastime in their own emirates.
Authorities in the two emirates banned fishing on beaches and creeks to protect marine life.
Those caught breaking the rules can face a Dh500 fine, with fishing allowed only in certain areas and from leisure boats, but only with a licence. Eusebio Fernandez makes the short trip from his home in Sharjah each weekend to fish along the UAQ coast.
“Fishing is illegal in every place in Sharjah and some places in Dubai,” said the 48-year-old Filipino. “For this reason I come from Sharjah to UAQ to practise my hobby because it is allowed here. I notice many people come here on Friday and most of them are from Sharjah and Dubai.”
The water treatment plan supervisor at Sharjah Federal Electricity and Water Authority said he sets off early in the morning at weekends with a group of friends he has met at the beach while fishing.
“I lived in Ajman three years ago and my house was close to the beach and I saw people fishing,” he said. “I loved it and then I bought the items and taught myself. This hobby is not hard because it is not a technical exercise; it just needs some necessary items and practice.”
Mr Fernandez said the amount of fish he catches depends on the tide. If the tide is high, the fish come closer to shore, he said. If it is low then they stay in the deep water. He usually takes home two or three big fish each day.
“I catch milkfish, mullet and rabbitfish,” Mr Fernandez said. “I never think about selling the fish I catch because I prefer to cook and eat fresh fish with my family.”
His friend Orlando Zantua, 55, a receptionist from the Philippines, said fishing helped him to de-stress after a long week.
“I go fishing with my friend, Fernandez, and his friends to catch fish and to have fun and to relax from the stress of work,” he said. “I catch one or two fish per day.”
Hussein Obaid Al Hajri, chairman of the Umm Al Quwain Fishermen’s Association, said the practice was allowed in the emirate only under certain circumstances.
“Fishing is not allowed unless a fisherman has an official permission or licensed fishing boat.
“But practising fishing by using a hook does not have any problem because it will not affect the fish resources.
“There are some places that we allow tourists or amateur fishermen to fish in. We treat people coming to UAQ to practise fishing as tourists because their numbers are few or they come as a family trip.”