Abu Dhabi's endangered dugong population is benefiting from environmental protection

Mortality rate drops for the species in the UAE

Abu Dhabi’s endangered dugong population is benefiting from environmental protection

The UAE is home to some amazing wildlife from the dunes of the desert to the glistening waters of the Arabian Gulf.

Thanks to recent changes in fishing practices, one of the UAE’s most treasured and endangered species is benefiting.

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) has announced that the mortality rate of dugongs has decreased significantly in the past year.

Recorded deaths of wild dugongs were the lowest in five years for the 2019-2020 peak season.

The decrease is due to the enforcement of new Ministerial Resolutions concerning fishing nets and changes to fishing practices in the waters off of the Abu Dhabi coast.

In December 2018, the EAD coordinated with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment to amend regulations on surface fishing and the use of encircling nets – which can cause deaths among dugongs.

"In the past season, recorded dugong deaths were the lowest for the past five years,” said Ahmed Al Hashmi, acting executive director of EAD's Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity.

“This shows the success of the resolution on the regulation of surface fishing via encircling nets. It is also evidence of the fruitful collaboration with other relevant authorities to protect endangered marine species such as dugongs and sea turtles.

"The statistics show that the deaths of dugongs during peak seasons coincide with seasonal barber fishing – locally known as Hiyali. Peak seasons are where dugongs are close to coastal areas and islands."

"Our inspection team worked closely with the Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority to increase monitoring of the illegal use of fishnets in reserves and marine areas.

“We have also partnered with the relevant authorities to raise awareness about marine wildlife and environmental legislation.”

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