Bahrain fish stocks ‘could run out in 5 years’
Manama, May 7, 2014
Bahrain's fish stocks could run out in five years due to over-fishing, said a top official, adding that the situation was "dire" and immediate action was needed.
Fishermen Protection Society president Jassim Al Jeran told our sister publication the Gulf daily News that Bahrain's waters could not sustain the current number of fishermen and called for half of them to have their licences revoked incrementally.
"If we continue the way we've been going, we'll be heading towards disaster," he said.
"There's a huge difference between now and the 60s and 70s. Back then we had just 100 licences and 18 heyrat (areas rich in marine life) to fish in.
"Now we have 1,250 licences, not including hobbyists, and just five heyrat to fish in. It's completely unsustainable. We need to start taking care of the sea and stop reclamation."
He also called for a committee consisting of decision-makers and fishermen to be formed to safeguard the country's fisheries. "We need to put together a committee and it absolutely must have fishermen in it," he said.
"It doesn't make sense to create one without the people who are struggling with this issue and know it. We also need to decrease the number of licences we have in stages until we are at 50 per cent of our current number. It shouldn't exceed 600 licences.
"Finally, we need to put together a strategy that protects Bahrain's waters. Right now, we're heading towards having no fish in the next five years. Better fishing practices would extend that a little, but we urgently need a strategy. Without it, we're at a loss."
His comments were backed by Fishermen's Co-operative Society head Waheed Al Dossary, who said a new strategy was needed.
"We had a meeting in 2009 with the Prime Minister where we were told no more licences would be handed out," he claimed.
"But since then 83 more licences have been released. Tell me, where is the logic here? Where is the strategy? Now both fishermen's livelihoods and wealth of our waters are in danger. If a car can only carry five people, you don't try to cram 50 people into it. That's what we're doing with our sea right now."
He said fishermen should be given incentives that would encourage them to voluntarily give up their licences.
"We need to have compensation for those people who are willing to give up their fisherman's licence," he said. "If the figures I have seen as estimates are agreed upon, I think it would be fair. We just need to start implementing it."
Al Dossary added that problems were being compounded by an increase in fishing violations. "There has never been as many violations in Bahrain's history as there are right now," he said. "No-one seems to be able to stop it - not parliament, Shura or the Prime Minister's office." – TradeArabia News Service