Are Sharks Essential to Our Oceans?

14 February 2018

Lab Chat

Sharks are top of the oceanic food chain. And they get a bad reputation as a result. Often presented as fierce, dangerous predators, sharks are actually important to our oceans for a number of reasons. But, like many other species, they’re at threat from overfishing. That’s why the United Arab Emirates has banned shark fishing from February 1st to June 30th during their breeding season. Read on as we explain the ban and why it is essential to keep our oceans healthy.

Ban on shark fishing

The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has declared a five month ban on shark fishing. It coincides with the powerful predators’ breeding season, to allow a replenishment of populations which are currently at risk.

This comes after the Ministerial Decree No. 500 for 2014, which started regulating the fishing and trading of sharks. It applies specifically to fishing waters that were no less than five nautical miles off the coast and no less than three miles from UAE islands.

Why save the sharks?

A primary reason for fishing sharks is for food – such as shark fin soup. This dish has gained great cultural value, but has caused a big threat to the species as a result. Some hunters even remove the shark fins, leaving the shark vulnerable in the sea.

Shark fishing is a global problem – and coincides with the ever-increasing use of unethical fishing methods. Pulse fishing, for example, can cause irreversible damage to sea life species. With the ocean under constant pressure plenty of species are near extinction, this ban, quite simply, aims to protect one of the most important groups of animals.

But why is it so important to stop shark fishing? Aren’t they a dangerous predator? In fact, shark fishing can have dangerous consequences to oceanic ecosystems. Sharks plays a crucial part in the organisation of a healthy habitat, preying on the weak organisms and keeping coral reefs disease-free. This is even more prominent for the UAE, as they have up to 30 endangered or critically endangered shark species.

Looking to the UAE

So, what does this ban mean for UAE waters? Firstly, certification from the proper authority is needed to import certain shark species – including sawfish, whale shark and great hammerhead.

Organisations and companies are also not allowed to export sharks that have been caught in waters of UAE. No matter if fresh, frozen or canned – this is not permitted throughout the year. Hopefully, the ban will have desired effect and we’ll see healthier shark populations into the future.

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