The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) has issued the Ministerial Resolution No. 43 of 2019 regulating shark fishing and trade. Coming into effect on March 1, 2019, the resolution overrides Ministerial Resolution No. 500 of 2014 as well as any contradictory legislation on the subject.
The move aligns with MOCCAE’s efforts to sustain shark stocks in UAE waters, as well as with international treaties and conventions, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).
The resolution allows fishermen who run registered lynch boats – boats fitted out with hooks on the sides – to fish sharks from July 1 of each year until the last day of February of the following year. 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.
Under the decision, fishermen must release sharks back into the water if they accidentally get caught in their fishing gear during the restricted period. And if they should find a dead shark in their fishing gear, they need to hand over the carcass to the concerned local authority.
According to the resolution, fishermen can only fish sharks beyond eight nautical miles from the shore. The decision also bans shark finning and dumping the carcasses in the sea, and mandates that only whole sharks be brought to the port.
Furthermore, the resolution imposes a permanent ban on fishing shark species listed on CITES, on 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.
The resolution stipulates that the import and re-export of shark meat – fresh, frozen, dried, salted, smoked, canned, or in any other form, including species listed on CITES – is only permitted if the freight forwarder presents the required shipping documents.
However, the import and re-export of shark fins in any form is permanently prohibited, excluding fins that are imported for scientific purposes following the approval of the Ministry. The resolution also bans pleasure vessels from fishing sharks.