UAE's seasonal ban on shark fishing begins

Temporary measure aims to replenish shark populations in the country's waters

Several species of sharks have become endangered because of overfishing. Antonie Robertson / The National
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A five-month ban on shark fishing in the UAE's waters begins on Monday, March 1, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment announced.

The ban on fishing sharks and rays will continue until the end of June, to coincide with their breeding season and allow diminished populations to recover.

Shark fishing is only allowed to be carried out in the Emirates from July until February by people with registered lynch boats and licensed equipment.

“The seasonal ban on shark fishing and trade aligns with the ministry’s strategic goal of preserving ecosystems and marine life, as it helps sustain the population of the species through giving them time to reproduce,” said Halima Al Jasmi, who leads the fisheries section at the ministry.

She said the ruling, which was brought into effect in 2014, was an effective tool for alleviating the pressure on sharks cause by overfishing and habitat degradation.

The same legislation permanently prohibits the import and re-exportation of shark fins – fresh, frozen, dried, salted, smoked, canned, or in any other form.

Fins imported for scientific purposes are excluded from the legislation, subject to approval by the ministry.

When introducing the legislation, a senior ministry representative said the shark population had been in steady decline for several years because of overfishing.

Sharks are valued for their fins, meat and gill plates, the representative said.

"There are 43 shark species and 29 ray species recorded in the UAE's waters, with 42 per cent of these considered endangered as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list of threatened species."

Some of the species of sharks found in the UAE: