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Part2Series1 (2003)


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    Updated 02-2016

    Current situation

    The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has a 1 318 km coastline that extends from Oman in the east to Saudi Arabia in the west. The majority of the coastline is in the Gulf, with a smaller coastline in the Gulf of Oman. The Gulf is characterized by warm saline waters that are relatively poor in fish resources.

    Although making only a very limited contribution to the economy when compared to the oil and gas sector, fisheries provide an important supply of fish to local communities and urban areas and are considered to have a heritage value. The fisheries of the UAE are almost entirely small-scale. Bottom trawl fishing has been banned since the 1990s. The employment in fisheries increased significantly during the 1990s, and in 2011, around 24 800 persons were involved in fishing, 44 of which were engaged in fish farming. The fishing fleet consisted of around 5 570 boats in 2011.

    Since 2008 total catches have been quite stable around an average of 73 000 tonnes per year. However, the data collection system is mostly based on market information and it may have overestimated the actual catches, in particular those reported in the late 1990s when total capture production exceeded 100 000 tonnes per year. Spanish mackerel, groupers and emperors are the most appreciated and valuable fish species.

    In 2015, aquaculture production was 790 tonnes, consisting of gilthead seabream, marine shrimp, tilapia and sturgeon etc. The major development in aquaculture in UAE in recent years was the construction of a large scale in-door aquaculture farm equipped with recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) for sturgeon farming, with the target of up to 30 tonnes of caviar production annually in coming years. It is expected that an increasing number of fishermen and private entrepreneurs will be lured into the aquaculture sector in the near future.

    In 2015, imports of fish and fishery products were estimated at USD 624 million and exports at about USD 100 million. The UAE is engaged in a substantial level of re-exportation of fish and fishery products (USD 68 million in 2015) whose origins are imports from neighbouring countries, especially Oman. UAE is an approved exporting country to the European Union. The 2013 per capita yearly consumption was at about 25.1 kg.

    The federal authority for fisheries management and policy is the Ministry of Environment and Water.

    The United Arab Emirates signed the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea but has not ratified it.
    Gen Geo Econ Report

    Table 1 - General Geographic and Economic Data - The United Arab Emirates

    Shelf area 52 455 km2

    Sea Around Us


    Length of continental coastline 1 328 km

    World by Map:


    Fisheries GVA Not Available  

    Country Stats-Key Statistics

    Country Stats-labelCountry Stats-valueCountry Stats-source
    Country area83 600km2Country Stats Sys-area. Expert sources from FAO (including other divisions), 2013
    Land area83 600km2Country Stats Sys-area. Expert sources from FAO (including other divisions), 2013
    Country Stats Label-inlandarea-km2Country Stats Sys-calculated. Calculated, 2013
    Population - Est. & Proj.8.843millionsCountry Stats Sys-pop. Official data, 2018
    Eez Flagstate Area51 782km2Vliz Name
    GDP (current US$)348 743MillionsWorld Bank. 2016
    GDP per capita (current US$)37 622US$World Bank. 2016
    Agriculture, value added0.8% of GDPWorld Bank. 2016
    StatisticsTable 2 in this section is based on statistics prepared by the Statistics and Information Branch of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and disseminated in 2016. The charts are based on the same source but these are automatically updated every year with the most recent disseminated statistics.

    Table 2 – Fisheries statistics – The United Arab Emirates

          1980 1990 2000 2010 2012 2013 2014
    EMPLOYMENT (thousands) 8.29 10.98 15.54 18.33
      Capture 8.29 10.98 15.54 18.33
        Marine 8.29 10.98 15.54 18.33
    FLEET(thousands vessels)
    Source: FAO Fishery and Aquaculture Statistics
    1) Due to roundings total may not sum up

    Please note: Fishery statistical data here presented exclude the production for marine mammals, crocodiles, corals, sponges, pearls, mother-of-pearl and aquatic plants.


    Last Updated 2003Part2Series1


    Full text of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Country Profile available at /fishery/docs/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_AE.pdf


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