The following article was published on the gulfnews.com website on August 1, 2014. It was written by Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter
Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi backs aquaculture to restore dwindling fish species
Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News
Local Hamour fish at the Fish market at Lulu Hypermarket at Khalidia Mall in Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi: Hamour (orange-spotted grouper), the most sought after fish species in the region, is also the most overexploited one. The rate at which Hamour are caught is estimated to be six to seven times in excess of sustainable levels, according to the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD).
Surveys conducted in 2002 showed that the grouper in general had been depleted to 13 per cent, compared to the abundance in which it was found in the region in 1978. Although a stock assessment for Cobia has not been undertaken yet, there are very limited landings of about 30 tonnes a year.
As the population of Abu Dhabi has increased over the years, fisheries expanded to try and meet the rising demand for fresh fish.
Well-managed restocking initiatives including introducing hatchery-produced fish fingerlings of overexploited local species back into the wild can help replenish overexploited fisheries resources.
Sustainable aquaculture technologies can also be used to preserve biodiversity by boosting the numbers of threatened and endangered species. In addition, some types of aquaculture, such as pearl aquaculture (or those involving filter feeding species), require sites at sea with good water quality. In effect, the existence of these farms at these locations ends up protecting these pristine areas and further enhancing the water quality in the area, an EAD spokesperson said.