Dubai Municipality to fight illegal fishing during breeding season

The trade of emperor and rabbit fish is prohibited in March and April

Inspectors monitor fish markets for illegally caught emperor and rabbit fish. Courtesy Dubai Municipality
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Dubai Municipality will be increasing fish markets inspections to enforce a ban on the trade of emperor (sheri) and rabbit (safi) fish during the spring breeding season.

Fishermen are not allowed to catch emperor and rabbit fish in March and April, according a Ministry of Climate Change and Environment law issued in 2015. Trade in local and imported emperor and rabbit fish, whether fresh or preserved, is banned during this period.

Hussain Lootah, the municipality’s director general, said these fish are amongst the “most important local fish species”. Their stocks have depleted due to illegal fishing during breeding season.

“Fishermen who catch these types of fishes should immediately release them in the sea with adequate attention to safety,” he said in a statement.

Inspectors will monitor the Deira fish market, the Umm Suqeim port and shopping centres.

Booklets explaining the importance of fishing laws and the preservation of fish stocks have been prepared in Arabic, English, Hindi and Chinese. “The booklets contain tips and guidelines for fishermen, vendors and public about the importance of the Ministerial Decrees, as well as images of the banned species and the allowable fish sizes,” said Alya Al Harmoudi, the director of environment department at Dubai Municipality.

The municipality reported 100 per cent compliance last year.


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“Dubai Municipality calls upon all fishermen, wholesalers, fish merchants and the public to ensure commitment to implement the Decree to regulate fishing and marketing of sheri and safi during their breeding season because the fisheries are a natural resource for us and for our future generation,” said Aisha Al Muhairi, the head of natural resources protection section, in a statement. “We have to keep it and prevent depletion and encourage programmes and legislations for its sustainability.”

In February, the government announced that it would increase coastal patrols after five dugongs were found dead on the beaches of Saadiyat Island. One of the females was pregnant. It is suspected that illegal fishing nets caused their death.

In January, it was announced that surplus and contraband fish seized in Fujairah would be distributed to underprivileged families. The ministry said it hoped to eventually roll out the programme across the country.