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Bahrain mulls shrimping ban extension

Manama, July 3, 2012

Bahrain's annual shrimping ban could be extended to six months, said a top official, adding that discussions are underway to prolong the existing four-month off season to allow stocks to properly replenish.

The multi-million dinar industry's stocks are not being properly regenerated because shrimps need at least six months to reach maturity and reproduce, said Public Commission for Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife marine resources director Jassim Al Qaseer.

However, if approved, the plan would be implemented next year as the ban, which runs from March 15 to July 15, will go ahead as scheduled.

'Shrimp require six months to reach maturity, so a four-month ban is not very effective,' he said. 'We are trying to extend the ban to six months like they have in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, which will give the shrimp enough time to go through its full cycle.'

Coastguard officials will submit a report to the directorate on the number of violations registered after the ban is lifted.

They will also study the new stock population, but Al Qaseer said it would be difficult as stocks fluctuate from season to season due to overfishing.

'The shrimping industry brings in about two to three million dinars annually depending on shrimp stocks, which is substantial,' he explained.

'During the ban, the coastguard monitors vessels for both shrimp fishing and illegal fishing which consists of fishermen using nylon gill nets and trawling and they are told to prioritise shrimping offences.

'The heaviest enforcement happens during the first 10 days of the ban to make the fishermen aware that it is in place.

'If caught, the illegal shrimpers and fishermen are charged and taken to court where the severity of the offence is decided by the court.'

However, Fishermen's Protection Society president Jassim Al Jeran said the extension could do more harm than good.

'If the ban is extended, it will mostly affect the commercial shrimper, who actually honour the ban and it would make life difficult for them as they will only be able to earn a living for six months of the year instead of the eight that they have now,' he said.

'I don't think it will work because amateur shrimpers ignore the ban throughout the year anyway.

'As of now, regulations to enforce the ban are lax. In some cases the fine will be as little as BD50 ($132.6) when the payload the fisherman get will be in the thousands. So the fine is not a deterrent. 'It works in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as they have a strong system with harsh penalties and they provide incentives for shrimpers to abide by the law in the period of the ban.'

The ban was enforced following extreme overfishing during the 70s, causing the Coastguard to implement strict regulations to protect the breeding process of the species. – TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Bahrain | Ban | Wildlife | Marine resources | Shrimping |

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