Ministry of Climate Change and Environment Announces Increase in Safi, Sheri Stocks Following Fishing Regulation Enforcement

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) today announced that as a result of the annual fishing and trade ban on Arabian safi (rabbitfish) and sheri (emperor), surveys of fishermen’s catch at landing sites indicate that the populations of the two species are flourishing.

According to the results of the survey report prepared by the Ministry at the landing areas and collected from the data of registered boats, fishermen and owners of excursion boats and divers, which compared the fish stocks caught by fishermen prior to and following the enforcement of Ministerial Decision No. 501 of 2015 that regulates the fishing and trade of these species, the percentage of safi has surged 30.8, and the average size and length of the fish caught have increased by 9.4 percent and 8.5 percent respectively.

For sheri, the caught stock has risen 17.4 percent, and its length has grown by 8.06 percent, amounting to an average of 67 cm. The population of juvenile sheri has also seen noticeable improvement by 6.19 percent.

Speaking on these figures, Ahmed Mohammed Alzabi, Director, Marine Environment Research Centers Department at MOCCAE, said: The survey results testify to an enhanced awareness among fishermen about the importance of complying with the federal legislation that safeguards fishery stocks and enhances their sustainability. Issued by MOCCAE, the Ministerial Decision No. 501 of 2015 prohibits the fishing of the two species and any trade in their local and imported byproducts in the UAE markets during their breeding season. It also bans their import and re-export in any form whether fresh, frozen, salted, smoked, or packed during this time.

He added: Sheri and safi are among the most important local fish species. Due to high consumer demand, they faced overfishing in the past, and were unable to replenish their populations naturally. The ban has alleviated this pressure and given the fish sufficient time to reproduce.

To achieve its goal of preserving the fish stocks in UAE waters, MOCCAE also urged fishermen to release any safi and sheri fish caught accidentally in their fishing gear during the restricted period back into the water.

Violations of the ban are penalized in accordance with the Cabinet Resolution No. 18 of 2012 that stipulates the application of administrative penalties on violators of living aquatic resources and fisheries.

Source: Ministry of Climate Change and Environment