UAE fishing ban of endangered sharks begins

The ban from February 1 to June 30 coincides with shark breeding season

Shark sales in UAE fish markets are strictly regulated. Antonie Robertson / The National
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A five-month ban on shark fishing in UAE waters begins on Thursday, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment announced.

The ban coincides with the apex predators’ breeding season and is part of efforts to replenish populations of at-risk species of shark.

“Sharks play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy habitat by ‘cleaning-up’ the reefs and preying on weak and sick fish populations, keeping coral reefs free of disease and other fish healthy and strong,” said Salah Al Rayssi, director of the Fisheries Sustainability Department at the ministry.

He said UAE waters are home to as many as 30 shark species, which are classified as endangered or critically endangered.


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The ban forbids the fishing of Oceanic whitetips, sawfish, whale sharks and three types of hammerheads. Each ranked between critically endangered and vulnerable.

“Illegal fishing practices, the global spread of unethical and uncontrolled fishing methods as well as the rise of the shark fin trade are putting some shark species on the edge of extinction. Global efforts must be intensified to prevent that from happening,” he said.

The Ministerial Decree No. 500 for the year 2014 on Regulating the Fishing and Trading of Sharks limits the hunting of sharks in fishing waters not less than five nautical miles off the country’s coast and not less than three nautical miles from the islands of the UAE.

Exporting sharks — in any form — caught in the fishing waters of the UAE is also banned throughout the year though their import is permitted, providing the ministry’s procedures and requirements are met.