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Bahrain plans curbs on fishing licences

Manama , July 12, 2011

Bahrain is set to cut the number of fishing licences in a bid to save the country's dwindling marine resources, said a top official.

A study is underway to look into how to carry out the plan, added Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife director-general Jassim Al Qassir.

He said fishermen with more than three vessels could be made to cancel one of their licences to help tackle the problem of overfishing.

"The study is revising ways in which we can reduce the number of fishing vessels to protect marine resources," said Al Qassir. "The best suggestion so far is to have fishermen who hold more than three vessel licences to give up one."

During the 1980s fishermen were allowed to own more than three vessels, but stocks were much higher unlike today, said Al Qassir.

"Some still own these licences or inherited them from their relatives," he said."We are looking to have one given up in return of some sort of compensation.”

The commission could potentially ban fishermen from renewing some licences for a certain time period and is also looking into financial compensation for those affected.

Fish stocks in Bahrain can now only afford to have 70 shrimp vessels and around 250 fish vessels, stressed Al Qassir.

"The (actual) number is way bigger than this in reality. These figures are our aim for the future and hopefully in a short time," he said.

Meanwhile, additional fishing and shrimping grounds have been demarcated to stop illegal fishing.

Three places, west of the Hidd industrial area and between Shaikh Hamad and Shaikh Khalifa bridges, have been added to locations earmarked for shrimp boats only. The move aims to revive depleting fish stocks, including small species usually caught in shrimping nets, and safeguard coral reefs.

It will also protect the livelihoods of fishermen by ensuring there are enough fish stocks for everyone, said Al Qassir.

"The fisheries directorate had in partnership with fishermen identified areas where fishing should be off limits," he said. "The list also demarcates areas that are only for shrimp vessels and those for fish vessels as a way to stop small fish from being captured in shrimp fishing nets."

It has been enforced by the commission following complaints by fishermen that their catch was decreasing due to shrimp fishing nets that capture small fish and drag along coral reefs.

A fishing law introduced in 2009 states shrimp fishermen are only allowed to practise their craft in designated areas, while other fishermen can use their nets in other areas.

Fishing has already been banned in Tubli Bay, Fasht Jarim, Hidd and in the south of Bahrain.

It comes as means of allowing coral reefs and marine life to regenerate and to revive the fish resources in the country. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | licence | Fishing | Marine resources |

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