In 2008, shark finning in the United Arab Emirates was banned. For many environmentalists and conservationists this was a time to rejoice and a moment of hope when it seemed the constant threat to sharks in the region may have eased. Over the years, however, it has become apparent that the change in law has done little to alter the situation on the ground.
Shark fins still fill fish markets in Dubai and the country remains an important market hub for the lucrative delicacy. This got me thinking- if the change in law has done nothing to protect sharks what can be done? I got in touch with two important organisations based in the country who are actively tackling shark finning, to talk about their views and what they think is needed to end shark finning once and for all.
Green Prophet spoke to the Emirate Diving Association, a non-governmental organisation setup in 1995 which works within the diving sector and marine conservation and has been encouraging its members to support the ban on shark finning. We caught up with Ibrahim Al Zu-bi, the driving force behind the organisation which is based in Dubai to find out more.
Aburawa: Can you tell us a little about the work that the Emirate Diving Association organisation does to end shark finning?
Ibrahim Al Zu’bi: EDA is a non-profit voluntary federal organization and is accredited by UNEP as an International Environmental Organization. We oversee all the locally based dive centres with the legal documents to operate within the UAE.
Through our strong membership base, we try to raise awareness about the practice of shark finning and use our members as tools to spread awareness. We also support all shark conservation initiatives and co-organize shark tagging expeditions to help research students know more about them.
Sharks like any other fish are being over fished in general, but the fact that sharks are being over fished for their fins only makes it worse. The luxury of shark fins has put a lot of pressure on sharks, which we don’t want to encourage.Shark finning is not common here as people eat sharks here like other fish and deal with it as another whole fish.
Why do you think that the shark finning ban in 2008 the UAE has not worked?
Like any other environmental law, you need to be firm in implementation and monitoring. Also, we need ordinary people to stop buying sharks and shark fin soup- ask restaurant managers to take it off the menu and tell them that you won’t come back if they don’t.
For more on sharks in the Middle East see: