MOCCAE Reveals Reduced Penalties in the New Administrative Sanctions List to Boost the UAE’s Fisheries Sector

MOCCAE Reveals Reduced Penalties in the New Administrative Sanctions List to Boost the UAE’s Fisheries Sector

The "Hadaaq" application assists fishermen in locating authorized fishing areas and obtaining suitable equipment across the nation's waterways

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) organized two virtual workshops aimed at raising awareness among fishermen regarding the provisions outlined in Cabinet Decree No. (120) of 2023.

This decree addresses violations and administrative sanctions related to living aquatic resources legislation and reconciliation therein. These initiatives align with the Ministry's overarching objective of safeguarding resources, improving fish stock, and promoting biodiversity conservation.

During two workshops attended by heads of fishermen’s associations and a group of fishermen, the Ministry underscored the importance of reducing penalties in the new administrative sanctions list. This initiative aims to strengthen the fishing sector and ensure the sustainability of aquatic resources.

In December, an official decree replaced Cabinet Decree No. 18 of 2012, addressing administrative penalties for violations of the Regulatory Resolution on Living Aquatic Wealth and Fisheries. The updated decision reflects sector changes, clarifies violations, and establishes a one-year expiration period for sanctions or fine collection from the violation date.

H.E. Dr. Mohammed Salman Al Hammadi, Assistant Under-Secretary of the Biodiversity and Marine Life Sector at MOCCAE, said: “We are devoted to executing the directives of our wise leadership, aimed at advancing the fishing profession, a crucial part of the UAE's heritage and culture. Our commitment lies in supporting fishermen to uphold national food security.”

His Excellency added, “The Ministry has formulated an annual plan to educate the fishing community on administrative sanctions, preserving aquatic biodiversity, and reinforcing fishermen's compliance. The plan seeks to raise awareness of revised sanctions, with adjustments made to accommodate various factors.

"Notably, the Ministry has reduced penalties, and eliminated the strict revocation of fishing licenses for recurrent violations. This flexibility aims to help fishermen better comprehend the modified sanctions and foster collaboration in pursuit of shared objectives.”

His Excellency emphasized, “The Ministry routinely evaluates awareness workshops for effectiveness and prioritizes virtual sessions for broader accessibility. Complementing workshops, visual aids like pictures and videos depict the severity of violations and underscore their impact on marine sustainability.”

The decree list outlines a spectrum of transgressions for violators of living aquatic resources legislation and reconciliation therein during fishing.

These violations include security breaches, catching and selling fish and aquatic organisms that are prohibited in terms of their types and sizes, using illegal fishing tools and equipment, fishing in prohibited areas, polluting the marine environment, underwater diving and marine competitions without the necessary permits, and using recreational vessels without permission.

Sanctions have been specified for initial, subsequent, and tertiary violations, along with the prescribed course of action in instances of recurrence beyond those instances.

In order to raise fishermen's awareness and strengthen their commitment to the laws and regulations of living aquatic resources, two awareness workshops - organized by the Ministry - shed light on violations, the importance of protection and sustainability of fish stocks and the preservation of marine environment.

The Ministry has also prepared an annual plan to raise awareness of various laws and ministerial decisions for marine biodiversity and fishery sustainability.

Fishing in prohibited areas

MOCCAE clarified during the workshops that a comprehensive inventory of all violations committed by fishermen and sea-goers that harm living aquatic resources has been taken. Through this inventory and data analysis it became evident that the most common violation was fishing in prohibited areas.

The Ministry launched the "Hadaaq" application at the GITEX Global 2023 exhibition. This interactive geographical map serves as an electronic guide, reflecting the legislation regulating the UAE's fishing sector. It pinpoints fishing boats’ locations within permitted limits, and indicates protected and prohibited areas along the country's coast. The application also provides fishing seasons and technical specifications based on the boats’ locations.

"Hadaaq" aims to assist fishermen by directing them to permitted fishing areas. Analyzing five years of fishermen's data revealed that 61% of violations were related to fishing in prohibited areas, while 15% were linked to using unpermitted fishing tools.

This application aligns with MOCCAE’s efforts to address the interference of different boats’ equipment at sea. The lack of a system to help fishermen identify fishing areas and permitted equipment in state waters has been a challenge.

The goal is to enhance compliance with fishing sector regulations, align with UAE government directions and the smart services strategy, and contribute to sustainable fish stocks to strengthen food security. It supports the Ministry's efforts in the blue economy and sustainable development goals, particularly Goal 14.

The application includes links for easy access to services like renewing fishing boat licenses, the annual calendar of fishing regulating decisions, and important safety instructions for sailing.

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