Abu Dhabi, UAE, 14 February, 2019: In light of the recent results of the Fisheries Resources Assessment Survey (FRAS), the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) organised a workshop for the local spearfishing community to discuss the proposed spearfishing management measures in Abu Dhabi. The session represents a key awareness and outreach pillar of EAD's comprehensive new Fisheries Recovery Plan, which will start to be implemented this year.
The workshop was the first in a series of discussions with the fishing community to discuss safety and sustainability with regards to spearfishing practices. It was attended by representatives of the federal Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), the Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority (CICPA), private marine clubs and companies and spearfishing experts from across the country.
Species targeted by spearfishers include the Kanaad, Jesh Um al Hala, Shaari and Hamour, with April the most popular month for spearfishing. According to FRAS, the UAE's fisheries are severely overexploited, with key stocks of Hamour, Shaari and Farsh having declined by over 85 per cent – placing an even greater need on sustainable and responsible fishing in Abu Dhabi.
Ahmed Al Hashmi, Acting Executive Director of Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity at EAD, commented: "We wanted to engage our spearfishing community on two critical aspects. The first, safety is the top-most priority when it comes to spearfishing. It is of paramount importance that those that engage in this activity, which is a significant part of our culture and heritage, are aware of all risks involved before they can free dive safely and responsibly.
"The second centres around our focus on sustainability," he continued. "We wanted to agree on appropriate daily catch and boat limits based on current state of our fish stocks, taking into account the valuable insights and experience of our local spearfishers."
Al Hashmi added, "At the workshop, we also discussed a range of potential regulatory measures as part of our Fisheries Recovery Plan. For those who were unable to attend the workshop, we have launched an online survey to listen to our stakeholders' views on the topic that will ultimately help shape the final policy recommendation."