|INFORMATION ON FISHERIES MANAGEMENT IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES|
LOCATION AND MAIN LANDING PLACES
The United Arab Emirates occupies a strategic position at the southern end of the Gulf lying between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. The country has sea borders to two very distinct water bodies: the largest coastline borders the embayment-like Gulf while the East coast has a border to the more oceanic Gulf of Oman and Arabian Sea. With the exception of a small purse seine industry operating out of Sharjah, the fisheries of the UAE are entirely artisanal in nature. As a result, fishermen land their catch daily into a large number of small towns and villages on the both the East Coast and the Gulf coast.
The majority of the catch from all sectors is taken from Abu Dhabi Emirate, since this Emirate comprises over 65% of the sea area of the United Arab Emirates. However, the most productive areas are inshore areas near to the Straits of Hormuz, around Ras al-Khaimah. Landings probably also consist of fish taken in other, neighboring, countries’ waters, although the quantity of such landings is not known.
Fish are landed at approximately 30+ designated landing sites along the coast of the UAE and are generally auctioned at the market in which they are landed. Most landing places incorporate facilities for landing, storing, auctioning, wholesaling and retailing the catch while some of the larger landing places/markets also have simple processing facilities for wholesale and retail customers. Some imported and trans-shipped product is also sold in the markets, although locally captured fish pre-dominate.
The main cities of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah are the principal landing places with regionally important landing places also being located at Ajman, al-Fujayrah, Ras al-Khaimah, Khawr Fakkan and Umm al-Qaywayn. To the west of Abu Dhabi, there are numerous small landing places, including those on the inhabited island of Delma that supply fish to local populations.
Fish supplies to interior cities and towns are sourced from coastal landing places and markets and the larger interior centers, such as al-Ayn, also have well developed fish markets.
FISHERIES POLICIES AND PLANS
The main objective of the UAE’s fishery policy is to promote the sustainable productivity of local fish stocks in order to ensure a continuous fresh fish supply. Another objective is to satisfy national demand by minimizing the difference between the local fishery production and total fish consumption. Policy aims are only contained in the relevant laws related to fisheries management and administration, since no specific fisheries management plans have been developed for any fisheries. The Fisheries Law 23 of 1999 does not explicitly state what the policy aims are, although the flavor of the Law is very much concerned with fisheries administration. The law that establishes the Environmental research and Wildlife development Agency (ERWDA) in Abu Dhabi not only recognizes ERWDA as the competent authority for managing fisheries in that Emirate but also emphasizes the protection and conservation aspects of ERWDA’s role.
The overall development objectives of the government for the fisheries sectors are:
MANAGEMENT MEASURES IN USE
The principal fisheries management measures that are used in the UAE are licensing of fishermen and fishing vessels, closed areas, closed seasons and the restriction of certain fishing methods. However, there has traditionally been no controls on inputs. In 2003, however, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi introduced restrictions on the number of fish traps (locally known as ‘gargoor’) that could be used per vessel as well as ceasing the issuing of new commercial fishing licenses. This was done in an effort to control fishing effort. In addition, from October 2003, regulations were introduced in Abu Dhabi Emirate that required all fish traps to carry a Government-issued tag (effectively limiting the number of traps) and to have an escape grid incorporated in them to reduce the catch of small fish. These regulations constitute the first effective input controls in UAE fisheries.
No trawling takes place in the UAE since this has been banned since the 1970s in an effort to protect marine habitat. Although the use of drift nets is also prohibited, their illegal use is common, particularly during the season for large pelagics such as Spanish mackerel.
The number of vessels registered is decreasing and, in 2002, was 5,191, down from 7,700 in 1998. An estimated 17, 264 fishermen operated these vessels. However, of these registered vessels, only a small number (perhaps as low as 20%) actually undertake fishing operations. Recent laws requiring a UAE national to be physically present on vessels during fishing operations has also reduced the number of active vessels.
The subsidization of local fisheries also remains an important part of Government management measures. There are no controls on outputs and no fishery is managed under a quota or ITQ system.
Legislation and related Regulations are introduced, enforced, and regulated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, based in Dubai although each of the seven Emirates has some input into fisheries arrangements in their sea areas. Enforcement is delegated to the Coast Guard.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries collects landings and market statistics from surveys of landing sites. In addition, other agencies, particularly the Environmental research and Wildlife development Agency (ERWDA) of Abu Dhabi are active in the collection of detailed fisheries statistics from their area of jurisdiction and in stock assessment and management of the major commercial species.
Licensing of recreational fishermen was introduced in Abu Dhabi in 2002 and in Dubai in 2003.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are an important part of marine management in the UAE and several large MPAs exist, particularly in the west of the country. These western areas are primarily concerned with protection of marine habitat and rare and endangered species, such as dugong. Fishing activities in these MPAs are either banned or restricted. In addition, large areas of the UAE’s territorial waters are occupied by oil concessions and, again, fishing activities in these areas are either banned or restricted. The construction of artificial reefs (often by individuals or groups of individuals such as fishermen’s co-operatives) is widespread and encouraged through subsidization. However, there is no co-ordinated policy of artificial reef development, location or standards of construction and no assessment has been made of their effectiveness or impact.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries also administers aquaculture management with co-operation from individual Emirates. At the present time, only one company is active in aquaculture in the UAE, with small quantities of imported sea bream (Sparus spp.) being produced.
INVESTMENTS IN FISHERIES
The investment in fisheries is totally controlled by the private sector. The artisanal fleet is owned by UAE citizens who invested in capital (boats and gear), while the fishermen and the boat owners share the profits. The majority of workers in the fishing industry are foreign workers.
PROJECTION OF SUPPLY AND DEMAND
analysis has been done on forecasting supply and demand and the doubtful
reliability of production statistics makes such forecasting hazardous.
However, with high population growth rates, stagnant or declining fish
production and increasing per capita wealth, it is clear that that the
UAE will be increasingly dependent on imported fish and fish products
to meet demand. These imports are most likely to come from neighboring
countries, particularly the Sultanate of Oman.
The basic fisheries legislation is contained in Fisheries Law 23 of 1999 with the flavor of that Law being very much concerned with fisheries administration. In addition, the law that establishes the Environmental research and Wildlife development Agency (ERWDA) in Abu Dhabi not only recognizes ERWDA as the competent authority for managing fisheries in that Emirate but also emphasizes the protection and conservation aspects of ERWDA’s role.
Fisheries Law 23 contains several decrees and implementation authorities for putting in place the management measures that are currently in force.
ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE NATIONAL FISHERIES AUTHORITY
fisheries management in the UAE is under the responsibility of the Ministry
of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF). The main task of the MAF is boat
licensing and registration of fishing boats, subsidies and loan administration
to fishermen and aquaculture research and management.