Enforce the Ban on Shark Finning in the United Arab Emirates

Target: United Arab Emirates Ministry of Environment and Water

Goal: Implement enforcement policies so that the ban on shark finning can be upheld

The Persian Gulf is still known as one of the “main Middle Eastern hubs for shark fins,” a fact which is at odds with a ban placed in 2008 within the United Arab Emirates disallowing the act of shark finning. Despite the ban, the United Arab Emirates makes up 10% of the 70 million sharks killed in finning ever year.

In particular, it is illegal to catch sharks from January through the end of April. However, this is precisely the time period in which a huge number of sharks are brought in, with around 2,500 sharks caught last year during this illegal four-month season. That constituted a stunning 60% of the annual shark catches. A full half of the fisherman doing this are also unlicensed despite the offer of free licenses distributed by the Ministry of Environment and Water.

The situation is dire enough with the amount of illegal catching that occurs, however the issue is exacerbated by the fact that the people of the region flagrantly show disregard for these laws. Oblivious to the ban, many vendors can be found selling the fins in Dubai markets, catching and selling sharks “in broad daylight” and without fear of consequences through adequate enforcement.

In Abu Dhabi, teenagers involved in a biodiversity education program dissected two sharks under the observation of Rima Jabado, a figure known to have been spending much of the past year investigating the global decline in sharks. A large shark often earns over $300, perpetuating the illegal activity as long as profits soar and leaving 47 different types of sharks and rays at serious risk. Many sharks are exported to places in Asia, such as Hong Kong.

One of the specific factors endangering populations is the hunting of shark pup and pregnant females who are often growing 12 unborn spawn at a time. Hammerheads are by far the most predominantly in danger. Demand that the Ministry of Environment and Water actually begin strict enforcement of the ban they placed four years ago.


Dear Ministry of Environment and Water,

In 2008, you placed a ban on shark finning in the United Arab Emirates. The four month period from the beginning of January through the end of April is supposedly a time during which the catching of sharks is illegal. However, 2,500 sharks caught last year during this four-month season made up a stunning 60% of the annual shark catches. Moreover, roughly half of the fisherman committing these crimes are completely unlicensed.

Vendors are seen openly selling illegally caught sharks in the markets of Dubai, as one example of the rampant disregard the people have for your laws. This is unacceptable and must be attended to immediately. The large profit which people make from this illegal fishing is what keeps the market running, which is why it is up to you to enact enforcement of the ban. Without this, the ban remains pointless.

Please implement strong enforcement policies that will adequately punish those who violate the law, and deter others from doing so.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: petersbar via Flickr

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  1. Another atrocity that persists. We don’t need this in our diet. The worst of kharma.

  2. Fran Fulwiler says:

    By failing to enforce your own laws against catching sharks between January and April, and by not licensing all fishermen who catch them, the United Arab Emirates is contributing to the death of our oceans, which require adequate numbers of these keystone predators to remain viable. Keystone predators keep in balance all animal and plant populations within each ocean ecosystem. The health of the oceans determines the continued existence of all life on earth, including human life.

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