May 7, 2013
Until the 1960s it was a common sight to see fishermen casting their nets from the beach along what is now the Abu Dhabi Corniche.
This image was taken in 1961, and shows a scene essentially unchanged for generations, except that the fisherman’s boat boasts an outboard motor. That touch of modernity hints at the challenges now confronting the Arabian Gulf’s fishing industry. Bigger and faster boats have boosted catches and brought fresh fish, cheap and plentiful, to the markets and supermarkets of the UAE. Such bounty comes with an evironmental price, though. Fish stocks have dwindled over the years, with some species, such as the ever-popular hammour, being pushed towards extinction.
This week, the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi warned that seven out of 10 fish being landed were from over-exploited species. The likelihood is that the agency will have to bring in new regulations by 2015 to protect what remains of our once-teeming waters.
* James Langton