Following the recent shocking incident where a pregnant hammerhead female shark and its forty-five pups were found dead at a fish market in Dubai, we decided to delve a little deeper into the murky business of shark fishing (also shark bycatch fishing) and finning in the United Arab Emirates.
Although shark fining was completely unheard of in the region at one point – as it’s not part of Arabian cuisine- the practice is gaining momentum and shark fishing is definitely on the rise.
UAE Is Market Hub for Shark Fins
A week ago, shark fin soup served at a Dubai function did court controversy but the fact remains that shark fin soup is ‘not uncommon in Dubai’. According to a news report on the issue by UAE 7 Days (link not working in 2022), the UAE still plays its part in the controversial trade and is the market hub for what is still seen as a high-status delicacy.
Although shark fining was banned in the United Arab Emirates in 2008, sharks fins are openly sold in the fish markets of Dubai. It is estimated that around 70 million sharks are killed for their fins each year and the UAE provides nearly 10 percent of this world total supply of shark fins.
Shark Dissection Carried Out In Name of Nature
The complete disregard for the shark population was illustrated by another incident around a month ago in Abu Dhabi where a group of teenagers dissected two sharks- all in the name of learning about the environment.
Apparently, the activity was organised by a diving and education charity Tawasul which aims to teach children about marine biodiversity. Even more shocking is the fact that the dissection was supervised by Rima Jabado who, according to the UAE National, “has been working for more than a year to determine how much local fishing is contributing to the rapid decline of sharks, which are also disappearing globally.”
Fining and Death of Pups Major Threat
The biggest threat to the shark population comes from hunting shark pups, catching pregnant females and fining. Ibrahim Al Zu’bi from the Emirate Diving Association told UAE 7 Days that continued shark fining and indiscriminate fishing could spell disaster for the ecosystem.
“If you over-fish anything, you will eventually see a negative impact on the marine system,” Al Zu’bi explained.
Image via Julia Spaet- KAUST PhD student researching shark populations in the Red Sea.
For more on sharks in the MidEast see: