Abu Dhabi / WAM
The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), announced a Sustainable Aquaculture Policy for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi geared towards promoting the growth of a competitive local aquaculture industry that will assist in reducing pressure on the severely exploited local fisheries.
The policy will also contribute to food security and economic growth for the UAE by producing safe and high-quality seafood products through the use of sustainable technologies that preserve and protect marine biodiversity and ecosystems.
The policy is consistent with local directives and strategies including the UAE National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, Abu Dhabi Plan and Plan Maritime 2030, as well as global strategies including the United Nations’ Convention on Biological Diversity and Sustainable Development Goals.
Developed in collaboration with federal and emirate-level partners, the policy aims to identify a series of common guiding principles in the development of a local aquaculture sector, which address all pertinent environmental, societal, economic and decision-making aspects.
The programme proposes six initiatives: updating and streamlining the current permitting process, developing a strategy to identify farming systems and appropriate sites, promoting economic investment in the sector, developing legislation, policies and guidelines, promoting innovation and scientific research in aquaculture, as well as developing communication
and marketing plans to attract investments to this sector.
The Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of these initiatives, in coordination with other entities.
Studies commissioned by EAD in partnership with other entities, indicate that overfishing and the degradation of marine habitats have resulted in alarming declines of fish stock and other marine species – at least 13 species have been harvested beyond sustainable levels, accounting for nearly 80 percent of the commercial catch and 88 percent of the commercial fishery revenue. As such, the aquaculture sector presents an opportunity to augment the supply of fish and seafood through the use of sustainable technologies to relieve pressures on declining wild fish populations and ensure the protection of healthy, productive and resilient marine ecosystems.
Highlighting the strategic importance of a sustainable aquaculture sector in Abu Dhabi, Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, EAD Acting Secretary-General, said, “The sea represents an integral pillar of the history and culture of our nation, providing a lifeline to sustenance, as well as a social and economic opportunity. With rapid growth and development, the population of the UAE has risen exponentially to 9.3 million in 2017, placing a critical need on the sustainable and efficient management of our marine resources and fish stocks.
“The Sustainable Aquaculture Policy is designed to relieve pressure on our fisheries by promoting a domestic strategy to promote a socially-responsible and economically-viable land and sea-based aquaculture sector, which can support the growing consumption patterns in Abu Dhabi and the UAE.”
Defined to fit the local context, the policy defines aquaculture as ‘the farming of aquatic organisms, including fish, molluscs, crustaceans, algae and aquatic plants for food, aquarium trade, restocking, recreational or commercial and research purposes.