All three hammerhead shark species, the oceanic whitetip shark and manta rays are now fully protected in United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) waters – and this is just one of the measures the country enacted in September to protect its sharks and rays.
The UAE has also strengthened protection for its other shark species by extending the closed season for shark fishing to five months a year between 1 February and 30 June, the time when most species breed, and by creating a buffer zone around the coastline where fishing for sharks is not allowed (within five nautical miles of the mainland and three nautical miles of the country’s islands).
The new rules aim to regulate the shark trade by banning the export of all products derived from sharks caught in the UAE, as well as the re-export of shark fins from other countries.
These rules are in addition to the protective measures for sharks and rays that the UAE already had in place, which include a ban on shark finning and a limit on fishing that targets sharks. The UAE had already protected sawfishes and whale sharks, so it has now effectively banned the fishing of all CITES-listed species that occur in its waters.
Rima Jabado, the founder and lead scientist of the Gulf Elasmo Project, sees this as a great step forward in the Arabian Sea area and hopes ‘that other countries in the region will follow suit to ensure that these vulnerable species are protected’.