The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) issued the ministerial resolution regulating shark fishing and trade last week.
According to the resolution, the import and re-export of shark meat, be it fresh, frozen, dried, salted, smoked, canned, or in any other form, including species listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), is only permitted if the freight forwarder presents the required shipping documents.
Aside from shark meat, the import and re-export of shark fin is also permanently banned.
Shark fins trade is also not allowed, unless they are approved by the ministry for scientific research.
The ministry said that the policies, which will come into effect on March 1, aligned with its efforts to sustain shark stocks in the UAE waters, as well as with international treaties and conventions.
The UAE was the world’s fourth largest shark fin exporter as of 2012, according to a report by local media The National.
As of 2012, small bodied sharks (total length of less than 1,000mm) are sold at the price of AED$10 (US$2.50) to AED$20 (US$6) per kg, according to the UAE Shark Assessment Report 2018.
The retail price of large bodied sharks (total length of more than 1,000mm) can go up to AED$8,000 (US$2,200) and AED$20,000 (US$5,500), depending on the species and sizes.
Restricted fishing period
The MOCCAE had also updated the permitted period for shark fishing.
Fishermen who run registered lynch boats (boats which have hooks fitted on the sides) are allowed to fish sharks from July 1 of each year until the last day of February of the following year.
They are only allowed to fish sharks beyond eight nautical miles from the shore.
The UAE authorities have been implementing a four-month fishing ban on sharks since 2008, which has since increased to five-month since 2014.
The ban, which is implemented on months which coincide with shark breeding, ran from Feb 1 to June 30 last year.
On other specific details, the ministry said that “every boat is allowed no more than 100 circle hooks of a size over 12/0, made of biodegradable material.”
“Fishing gear must have lights on both ends to indicate its location and a floater that shows the number of the fishing boat and emirate code,” it added.
The fishermen are also permanently banned from fishing shark species listed on the CITES, the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), and in the Federal Law No. 23 of 1999 concerning the exploitation, protection, and development of living aquatic resources in the UAE and its amendments.
On the other hand, if the sharks were accidentally caught in the fishing gears during the restricted period (March to June), the fishermen must release the sharks back into the waters.
Also, if a dead shark is found, the fishermen will need to hand the carcasses to the relevant local authorities.
As for shark finning and dumping of its carcasses into the sea, the two practices are banned since 2011 and the fishermen are required to bring the entire shark back to the fishing port.