Dubai Marine Life At Risk After Devastating Shark Catch

A five-metre-long female shark and its litter of forty-five hammerhead pups was found dead at the Deira Fish Market in Dubai

The Arabian Gulf marine ecosystem took a devastating hit this week after a pregnant great hammerhead shark was landed and forty-five pups gutted out of it in a Dubai fish market. Despite a shark fishing ban from January to April, endangered shark species are being put at risk by fishers who continue to hunt them down in the United Arab Emirates. The horrific find was recorded by shark researchers monitoring the decline of the species in the region and Thomas Vignaud, working with the Shark Quest project, along with Julia Spaet discovered the forty-five dead pups after an inspection of the female hammerhead.

Shark fishing has skyrocketed in the UAE in recent years and according to figures from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FOA), the gulf state is one of the main Middle East exporters of shark fins to Hong Kong.

Speaking to Gulf News, Jonathon Ali Khan who is an expedition leader for sharks in the region and director of Shark Quest Arabia explained that the importance of the region for the survival of certain shark species needed to be better highlighted so that birthing sharks are protected. “When a slow-reproducing shark is found at the market with 45 pups something needs to be done for the welfare of the species,” he added.

Great hammerhead sharks are an endangered species and the forty-five pups that were found were almost ready to be born. “If even half of these shark pups had survived, it might have made a significant contribution to the survival of this species at least in this region,” Khan told the Gulf News.

It is believed that the shark may have been caught in the waters of Oman and brought to the UAE for sale to make a better profit although it is impossible to tell for sure. In Oman, shark fining at sea is banned and in the UAE shark fining and shark hunting between January to April was banned in 2008. Even so FOA figures show that from 1998 to 2000, around 400-500 tonnes of shark fins were exported from the UAE annually. Latest findings also reveal the growing popularity of shark-hunting as they indicate that the shark catch in the UAE shot up in 2003 to 3,060 tonnes a year.

These statistics are particularly worrying as sharks are extremely sensitive to fishing at they mature quite late and produce few offspring. As such, the death of forty-five great hammerhead pups is a serious blow to their future existence in the Arabia Gulf.

Photo courtesy of Julia Spaet- KAUST PhD student researching shark populations in the Red Sea.

For more on Sharks and the Middle East see:

Kuwaiti Sharks, Ecosystems and Exxon

Shark Attacks Up 25% Worldwide

25 Shark Species In Persian Gulf Need Urgent Protection

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26 thoughts on “Dubai Marine Life At Risk After Devastating Shark Catch”

  1. julia hustad says:

    And what will the punishment be to the fishermen who committed this crime????????
    Punishment must be harsh or it will continue to happen.

  2. Hala says:

    I wonder, how can one reach the fisherman to let them know what middle easterns and the world think of this?

  3. Hala says:

    This is nauseating, and brutal to the poor pups, what a waste of a great promise. As an environmentalist and a mother I am revolted. Also, could people from the west stop telling us that environmentalism is not part of our “level” of thinking, in the “third world”? This is racist. Some of us have a humane vision of what the middle east can be, and this applies to have animals, greenspaces and water resources are treated.

  4. Mike Martin says:

    What’s with everyone on here trying to parade a moral/humane rhetoric- why isn’t this article on child slave-labour, human-trafficking, or starvation, poverty and famine in the 3rd world!??? *P.S. for all the geniuses dropping facts, these ‘devastating’ catches have been happening for all the centuries gone by and yet you probably won’t even live long enough to see one century. Crack open a beer and go do something that makes you happy instead of reading this drivel…

    1. Terry says:

      Shark fin soup was a delicacy just for the Chinese for thousands of years…Nowadays, the whole world can order a shark fin soup…If you can’t tell the difference, then drink your beer and just skip to another website (Kim Kardashian’s blog or the like)

      1. Carina says:

        Ha ha! Exactly!

    2. Phil Lewis says:

      Well done, Mike, for posting what is easily the most arrogant and pig ignorant comment on this page.

  5. See the latest shark catch pictures here as photographed on 4 July 2012 in the Deira Fish Market. Sharks in the Persian Gulf are still taking serious punishment.

  6. lavashnkr says:

    where the hell is the “arabian gulf”??! when you’ve figured out where this has happened, then make an article about it. ps: maybe you meant the PERSIAN gulf…

    1. Bryan says:

      If you do your research, the Persian Gulf is also known as the Arabian Gulf

      1. Maxwell says:

        if you did YOUR research you’d known that the Persian Gulf is and was always called the Persian Gulf. The arabian gulf is what is today called the Red Sea.

        Please don’t make condescending comments without basis. It makes you look like a fool.

        1. toomuchcaringfornothing says:

          lol, persian are funny when they get angry about the name of a water surface! lol

          joon, WHO CARES !!!!? It is not like you OWN it if it is called persian, nor you lost it if it is called arabian . get over it .

  7. M. Jazayeri Arab says:

    What I do not understand is that there are still people who call Persian Gulf, Arabian Gulf ! While the UN has recognized the Persian Gulf as the offficial name.We can not just distort identity.
    Since today we just call Gulf of Oman Gulf of Iran, is it fair? Stop calling Persian Gulf, arabian gulf.

    1. Lucas says:

      you are right. if Persian gulf is the correct name, I will call it persian gulf from now on. i did not know before. You should use the internet for informing people.
      But please do this on the right sites. This here is about sharks.
      But now, that I know it, I will do, what you ask for.
      Please return the favor in being open minded for the call for help for the sharks.
      Support the fight for more shark protection with a little donation using this link

      Thank you

  8. this is a horrifying act of greed , and i hope that the government of Dubai lives up to it promise of being the 21 century town and stop all this useless fishing and exportation of sharks

  9. Xa says:

    The human stupidity and idiocy are remarkably amazing and incredible…. soon, no more water, no more animals, no more vegetables, no more air… but we can’t eat money, car, bank, house, building, etc…. humans (overall with money) = unsustainable anti-natural pest!!! Kill them!

  10. Arwa Aburawa says:

    @ Thanks to everyone for their comments and I share your sense of outrage. Shark fining seems illogical, dangerous to our ecosystem and a risk def not worth taking. I really hope that we start to see change for the better in the Mideast- fishers surely have an invested interest in fishing more sustainably and ending what seems to be the most wasteful fishing ever- i.e. shark fining.

  11. Shelley says:

    Thanks for the article, it is really sad and really graphic. I hate that there is such disrespect for the ocean these days. There’s so much that needs attention. I think that if we really knew what was going on behind the scenes it would blow our minds. I read the other day that tonnes of fish (dead) are thrown back to sea because they are killed while fisherman were hunting for other species. Tuna fishing for example kills so many other types of fish, dolphins and sharks, turtles and plenty plenty more and they all just get chucked back into trhe ocean. Its sick. I hope I have never eaten shark unknowingly and I will never eat tuna again. Actually, I think fish is off the menu for me.

  12. nicky says:

    very very sad to see this, why is no one doing anything about it??! As an environmentalist this makes me so angry that this is going on, the Sheikh needs to intervene!

  13. Maurice says:

    Also, any of you who might be in London and occasionally order fishnchips: ever wonder what kind of fish is most used for this dish?

    You guessed it!

  14. Maurice Picow says:

    Looks like they fished out the “pond”.

  15. Peer Barnyngoz says:

    Time for a worldwide boycott in sales of this dumb product. You would have to be an bloody eejut to think that a piece of cartilage has anymore nutrition or mystical properties than a bamboo shoot. Bloated business people or snotty wealthy degenerates ought to be laughed out of the restaurants for ordering this rubbish. Instead they project themselves as sophisticates worthy of a delicacy. What sad examples of inhumanity!!

  16. This news makes me want to vomit.

  17. Arwa, this is absolutely despicable.

Comments are closed.