Fishing industry receives a fillip

The new Dh30 million, 300-berth port in Umm Al Quwain will play a big role in boosting the fishing industry in the country and preserving the traditional profession.

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Fishing occupies a key place in both the UAE's heritage and its culture. We are a nation of seafood eaters and most of us live in coastal areas. For some Emiratis, particularly in the Northern Emirates, fishing remains their main and, indeed, only source of income.
We also live in an era when fish stocks are declining at alarming rates, but fishermen will undoubtedly welcome at least one contemporary development: the new port in Umm Al Quwain.
Its completion represents a further indication of the government's commitment to preserving and investing in the industries that traditionally supported parts of this nation. Even today, fishing is still UAQ's biggest industry.
As The National reported yesterday, the newly opened Dh30 million Al Naqqa port has space to accommodate more than 300 boats.
In the past, the emirate's narrow port had forced many fishermen to pull their boats onto the beach due to the lack of space in the marina.
But this is not all. The emirate is building another 75-berth facility on UAQ Creek that is expected to open next month. The development will replace the dilapidated 35-year-old marina that had fallen into disrepair.
The UAQ Fishermen's Association has also been allocated land next to the port to build an ice factory close to the fish market.
These improvements are in line with the government's coordinated efforts to support the industry.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Environment and Water gave special discounts to Emirati fishermen to help them buy new equipment. Separately, the ministry has held meetings with fishermen and is seeking to train them to properly use and maintain this new kit.
The ministry has also been increasing regulations in recent years to help preserve fish stocks during their spawning seasons and is busy enforcing these rules through regular inspections and fines.
Efforts like these, on a local and national level, are important. Not least because they represent an important link with our past, but more pointedly because they will help an important industry to function more effectively tomorrow.