UAE taking steps to protect endangered sharks, ministry says

There are about 550 species of sharks around the world and more than 30 species in the Arabian Gulf. The majority of shark species are threatened or endangered because sharks reproduce in small numbers and their growth period is very long.

ABU DHABI // The UAE is continuing its efforts to protect endangered sharks and the marine biodiversity of its waters, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has said.

“[The ministry] has been taking a series of tangible steps aimed at protecting the environment, spreading awareness and enhancing cooperation for the protection of sharks, to contribute to the global environmental balance and maintain a sustainable marine environment,” said Mariam Hareb, assistant undersecretary of the Water Resources and Nature Conservation Sector.

There are about 550 species of sharks around the world and more than 30 species in the Arabian Gulf. The majority of shark species are threatened or endangered because sharks reproduce in small numbers and their growth period is very long.

That threat is exacerbated by illegal fishing practices, global spread of unethical and uncontrolled fishing methods and the rise of the shark fin trade, which is putting some shark species on the edge of extinction.

Ms Hareb said the UAE recognises the threat to sharks, and the wider challenges resulting from overfishing and illegal wildlife trade.

The UAE’s environmental policy and action toward addressing these issues has made it a regional leader in protecting sharks.

It was the first country in the Middle East to ratify the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), for instance. The UAE has also enhanced its monitoring and control measures by working with relevant authorities domestically and internationally. These measures include the inspection and audit of fish markets and landing sites with customs and municipalities.

Where laws and regulations have been broken concerning shark and fin trading, confiscations and legal action are taken as necessary.

The Ministerial Decree No500 of 2014, on regulating shark fishing and trading, stipulates that circle hooks, instead of traditional J-hooks must be used to minimise harm to fish that can be returned to the water. The use of one longline is allowed on each vessel with no more than 100 hooks. The decree also states that all protected shark species caught must be immediately returned to the water.

newsdesk@thenational.ae

Published: July 23, 2016 04:00 AM

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