Abu Dhabi: As part of a comprehensive plan to ensure the protection and recovery of fisheries in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and in line with the recommendations, studies and monitoring programs of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) has issued Ministerial Resolution Number (82) of 2019, which bans the use of gargoor nets in Abu Dhabi effective 1 May 2019.
The decree comes in response to the recent results of the Fisheries Resources Assessment Survey (FRAS) that was conducted by EAD, in partnership with MOCCAE as part of the UAE National Fisheries Programme, to assess the state of Abu Dhabi’s fish stocks. The survey revealed that the demersal fish stock is vulnerable to high deterioration; the Hamour (Orange-spotted Grouper) and Farsh (Painted Sweetlips) have witnessed a significant decline to 10 per cent of their adult (reproductive) stock size and are overexploited by up to five times the sustainable limit. This is well below the 30 per cent sustainability threshold that international standards prescribe as a minimum for sustainable fish stocks.
The decision requires all fishermen who are registered with MOCCAE to suspend the use of gargoor nets in the waters of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi before 1 May 2019, the day the resolution begins to be enforced. The ban excludes all gargoor nets used on boats registered with the Ministry and approved by EAD for research and scientific study purposes. Over the past 18 years, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), the local authority mandated to protect the emirate’s environment and biodiversity, has conducted comprehensive studies to assess the status of the fish stocks of some of the most important commercial species in Abu Dhabi and the UAE. This research has shown that many major species have witnessed a significant decline during this period, despite our strong efforts to sustainably manage and protect the fisheries.
The results of the Fisheries Resources Assessment Survey, which was a major component of the National Fisheries Programme, indicates that immediate measures need to be taken to protect the fish stocks from over-fishing, so that we ensure that they are able to recover and develop sustainably to reach the internationally-benchmarked threshold of sustainable fish stocks.
EAD is seeking to raise the proportion of fish that are caught sustainably to 70 per cent through strict measures to achieve sustainable fisheries in order to reach levels in line with the UAE National Biodiversity Action Plan 2014 – 2021. According to studies conducted by EAD, gargoor nets target major and highly-exploited species such as Hamour (Epinephelus coioides), Shaari (Lethrinus nebulosus) and Farsh (Diagramma pictum). In 2017, these species’ landing catch was more than 75 per cent of the total catch via gargoor nets.
A 2016 study assessing underwater clean-ups has revealed that there are an estimated10 abandoned gargoor nets present on the seabed. These gargoor nets then trap fish and other marine life in a phenomenon known as ‘ghost fishing’, which threatens fish stocks and impacts vital marine ecosystems.
EAD has implemented several measures and initiatives to promote efforts towards achieving sustainable fisheries in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, including the improved management of marine and coastal sites in coordination with relevant authorities in Abu Dhabi, the establishment of artificial reefs, research on fish stocks and programs to develop an aquaculture sector in the emirate.
About Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD)
Established in 1996, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) is committed to protecting and enhancing air quality, groundwater as well as the biodiversity of our desert and marine ecosystem. By partnering with other government entities, the private sector, NGOs and global environmental agencies, we embrace international best practice, innovation and hard work to institute effective policy measures. We seek to raise environmental awareness, facilitate sustainable development and ensure environmental issues remain one of the top priorities of our national agenda.
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© Press Release 2019