By Sarah Townsend
Authorities are under renewed pressure to ban shrimp trawling after warning
Authorities are under renewed pressure to ban shrimp trawling after an official warned Bahrain’s fish stocks could be wiped out within three years.
Abdulla Isa, acting head of marine licences at the Agriculture and Marine Resources Directorate, reportedly told the Gulf Daily News that shrimp trawling is the single biggest threat to the country’s marine life.
Shrimp trawlers are effectively “raking” the waters of the Gulf and damaging its ecosystem, he said.
“When shrimping, the banoosh [trawlers] will drag the seabed for eight hours at a slow pace, using netting attached to two thick weights usually made of wood.
“If you look at the seabed in the area where shrimping is allowed, it’s totally flat like a road.
“This is what has ruined the sea for us, not reclaiming land. As a directorate, we want to ban shrimping altogether. It's already been banned in Oman, the UAE and Qatar.”
Isa was reportedly speaking to the newspaper days after attending a crisis meeting between MPs, fishermen and environmental experts to discuss problems facing the fishing industry.
Bahrain has already introduced a temporary ban on shrimp trawling between March 15 and September 15 this year to reduce the impact on Bahrain's marine life.
But Isa claimed two boats had been caught flouting the ban in the first two weeks, and others are believed to have done so but not been caught.
He was quoted as saying: “The problem isit’s sometimes hard to catch [the trawlers]. They’ll cut the nets if they see the Coast Guard approaching then come back for the catch later.”
The shrimp stay in the nets because they’re weighted, he explained, adding that shrimp trawling licences should be torn up and replaced with regular fishing licences – effectively outlawing the practice but enabling trawlers to pursue other fishing business opportunities.
If the ban isn’t implemented rigorously, he said, “we won’t have fish in Bahrain in three year’s time”.