For centuries fish has been a mainstay of the diet of the people within the U.A.E. and, as a result, has brought about the creation of numerous industries which focus on harvesting, processing and delivering seafood to a vast consumer market within the region.
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However, it should be noted that researchers such as Zoubir and Yahia (1999) state that industries such as these are not given carte blanche to do whatever they want in terms of harvesting the waters in and around the U.A.E. (Zoubir and Yahia, 1999). Certain limitations have to be implemented due to the potential for these industries to wipe out a finite ocean resource (Groeneveld et al., 2012).
What must be understood is that supplies of fish and other aquatic organisms take a certain amount of time to replenish. Unfortunately, due to the subsequent increase in demand for seafood as well as the advanced methods of capture that are being utilized at the present, unrestricted fishing practices often result in unsustainable local aquatic populations which subsequently die out (Groeneveld et al., 2012).
Evidence of this can be seen in the case of the blue fin tuna species as well as the North Atlantic salmon which have experienced considerable population declines to the extent that the W.T.O. as well as several advocacy groups have been protesting their continued use as a food product due to the very real possibility of extinction.
Due to instances such as this, the necessity of implementing proper policies and guidelines to create catch quotas has been at the forefront of present-day government legislation involving the local fishery industry within the U.A.E.
It is based on this that this paper will examine the current policies being utilized for fish within the U.A.E. and what these policies have achieved in terms of creating the necessary catch limitations to ensure sustainable fishing practices.
Through this study, it is expected that readers will develop a greater understanding of current import/export practices within the U.A.E. involving fish as well as whether there exists any potential problems within the fishery industry that the government should focus on in order to increase the effective and efficient utilization of aquatic resources in order to reduce cost and wastefulness.
Background of the Study
Fish as a Staple of the Human Diet
For a large percentage of the current global population fish represents a readily available and above all affordable means of sustenance when compared to other food types. Based on comparative global prices it can be seen that certain species of domesticated fish such as milkfish, cod, and dory are actually consumed by the metric ton on an almost daily basis due to their relatively low prices.
While it may be true that beef, chicken and pork have a relatively higher rate of consumption the fact still remains that in most markets fish that are either caught on the open sea or produced through aquaculture have a relatively lower price as compared to most cuts of beef, chicken or pork.
In some cultures, particularly those in the Middle East, fish is actually consumed more than beef, chicken or pork due to their geography, which places them near larger sources of fish as compared to cultures located in Central Europe or the central states in the U.S.
Taking this into consideration it can be seen that fish has a different value depending on the geographic location of the culture that consumes it. For some cultures various dishes based on fish can be considered an integral part of their cultural tradition, while for others fish can be considered nothing more than a miscellaneous option between chicken, beef, pork or vegetables.
Sustainability refers to the utilization of resources and the production of goods/services in a manner that takes into consideration not only the impact of a company on the environment but also its ability to ensure that the resources it utilizes are sourced in a manner that ensures that they can be renewable.
By doing so, this creates a system where costs are reduced, efficiency is increased and the company presents a far better public image due to the general consensus that implementing sustainable practices creates a beneficial effect for the general public.
As such, sustainable supply chains implement the aforementioned principles into a cohesive whole in every aspect of the supply chain, whether it is the sourcing of raw materials, the manufacturing of goods/services or the distribution of such outputs to consumers. From the perspective
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Abbasi and Nilsson (2012) an organization with a truly successful sustainable supply chain could theoretically remain in business forever (depending on continued consumer demand for its products of course) which lends credence to the beneficial effects a sustainable supply chain could have for a company (Abbasi and Nilsson, 2012).
One example of a sustainable supply chain is when a company’s management orientation is evidenced by a business model where economic goals are compatible with environmental and social goals. In this particular version of a successful supply chain a company does not focus entirely on a competitor oriented approach (though this is also important) rather what is being accomplished is that it focuses on developing a business model that utilizes Corporate Social Responsibility (C.S.R.) as the basis behind its actions.
Since C.S.R. is a form of internal self-regulation, a company that implements this focuses on reducing adverse environmental practices while at the same time develops positive social effects. A second example of a sustainable supply chain is when sustainability becomes integrated in the organization where the organization has both a managerial orientation toward sustainability and an innovation capability.
This means that internal developments within the organization focus on developing methods wherein processes become more efficient, waste is reduced, resources are obtained from renewable sources and the focus of the company is towards the development of practices that result in positive environmental effects.
The main objectives of this study consist of the following:
- To examine the current policies for fish and fisheries involving seasonal and species limitations.
- Determine the extent by which the policies that have been developed are actually effective in ensuring sustainable fishing practices.
- Examine the current import/export regulations of fisheries.
- Investigate whether there are any inherent problems/discrepancies in government policies and regulations.
- Create a means by which any identified problems can be succinctly addressed with an effective strategy that would resolve the issues.
Introduction to Methodology
This section aims to provide information on how the study will be conducted and the rationale behind employing the discussed methodologies and techniques towards augmenting the study’s validity. In addition to describing the research design, this section will also elaborate on instrumentation and data collection techniques, validity, data analysis, and pertinent ethical issues that may emerge in the course of undertaking this study.
The primary method of data analysis for this study will consist of document analysis. As described in the book “Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation” by Merriam (2009), document analysis primarily consists of examining academic articles, journals and books as well as various analytic and statistical reports in order to investigate a particular topic or issue.
This method of analysis primarily concerns itself with the presentation of data in support of an argument through a summary and subsequent explanation of all the literature and statistical references collected by the author.
This method of analysis was chosen since it would enable the most efficient investigation of the data necessary for this study as well as enables the researcher to easily present the needed data without undue complications such as scheduling issues or noncompliance with the objectives of the research which is often seen in interview/questionnaire-based studies.
Data collection for this study will actually be quite straightforward, the researcher will collect information from a variety of online databases such as EBSCOhost and Jstore as well as through other sources such as published books and articles (when available).
Online statistical databases created by the U.A.E. will also be utilized in order to collect data over the past 60 years regarding catch rates and present-day catch limitations that are being imposed on local fisheries within the U.A.E.
It is expected that through these databases an accurate representation of the current state of the fishery industry within the U.A.E. can be created.
Possible ethical considerations that may arise through this study consist of the following:
- The potential for unintentional plagiarism through verbatim lifting of information, arguments and points of view from researched source material.
- The use of unsubstantiated information taken from unverifiable or nonacademic resources (ex: internet articles).
- The use of a biased viewpoint on issues which may inadvertently result in an alteration of the data collection results.
- Presentation of data without sufficient corroborating evidence or a lack of citation.
- Falsifying the results of the research for the benefit of the initial assumptions of the study.
- Using views and ideas without giving due credit to the original source.
According to various research guides, “Ethics refers to the appropriateness of your behavior in relation to the rights of those who become the subject of your work, or are affected by it”. It is based on this that the researcher will attempt to perform proper research ethics on this paper by actively avoiding all the listed possible ethical issues that may arise in order to ensure the validity and veracity of the study results.
Results and Analysis
Fishing within the U.A.E
It is quite interesting to note that despite being one the richest and technologically advanced regions within the world, the U.A.E. actually has little in the way of large scale local fisheries. Most of the vessels utilized for fishing within the waters off the Emirate are relatively small scale with technological developments such as trawling through the use of large nets being banned.
While from a certain perspective the U.A.E. does not rely on its fishery industry due to its rich oil reserves, the fact remains that the region considers fishing as a form of regional heritage and, as such, various policies have been enacted which have created a state of rudimentary management as compared to the state of affairs that existed 40 years ago where no effective methods of management were implemented.
Despite the artisanal (i.e., heritage-based) fishing that exists within the U.A.E., it has been shown that nearly 90 percent of its fish stocks have experienced a significant decline in the past two decades.
Not only that, combined with the fact that vessel registration within the Emirate has seen a 25% decline is indicative of the fact that not only is there a decline in the availability of local species, the local fishery industries have actually noticed this and, as a result, have scaled back their operations resulting in a scant number of vessels actually fishing the local U.A.E. coastline.
In trying to understand the decline of fish stocks within the region it is important to note that within the past 30 years, the U.A.E. has actually experienced phenomenal growth in terms of industrial and commercial property development. This has impacted not only the region’s interior but has actually encompassed aspects of its coastline as well wherein various land reclamation projects have in effect significantly altered the bio-system of established aquatic species.
Researchers such as Tourenq and Launay (2008) have pointed out that the artificial expansion of the U.A.E. coastline without heed for the possible environmental ramifications would definitely have had some form of impact on the local fish population (Tourenq and Launay, 2008).
As Tourenq and Launay (2008) explains, coastlines act not only as breeding areas and sanctuaries but are also the local of a vast percentage of the local migration patterns of aquatic sea populations. The development that has occurred within the U.A.E. has upset such a balance resulting in the declining fish populations that are seen at the present (Tourenq and Launay, 2008).
Current State of the U.A.E Fisheries Industry
Based on an examination of recent catches, it can be seen that the following fish species are the primary catches caught off the local coastline by the fishery industry:
- Groupers – consists of 24.7 percent of all caught fish
- Jacks- consists of 16.5 percent of all caught fish
- Emperors – consists of 25 percent of all caught fish
- Sweet lips – consists of 10.5 percent of all caught fish
- Scads – consists of 5.2 percent of all caught fish
While it may be true that artisanal fishing vessels in the form of dhows (wooden vessels that are 15 meters in length) or outboard powered vessels “tarads” (normally 8 to 10 meters in length) are the primary means by which the local fishing industry gets its “catch” the fact remains that combined with the current state of coastline development within the country, the means by which the local fishery industry catches fish is contributing significantly to the continued reduction of fish species within the Emirate.
The reason behind this is quite simple, in combination with traditional practices the local fishery industry at times attempts to utilize banned methods of fishing, which results in considerable reductions in the local population to such a degree that the methods utilized are in effect unsustainable in the long run.
First and foremost, the use of traditional fixed stake rake nets, which are called “hadra” has lead to the catch of fish that are less than the optimum size. These fish, usually juveniles, have yet to spawn and contribute to the local fish population and, as such, their capture is incredibly detrimental towards the continued survival of local species.
The problem with hadra’s is that the netting they utilize in catching fish has not changed in design in well over 100 years. This type of netting is usually meant to catch as many fish as possible without heed for size and, as such, has holes which do not let juveniles pass through as compared to a majority of modern-day fishing nets which are more discriminate in the type of fish they are able to catch.
While the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA) has attempted to establish a variety of new regulations limiting the types of netting utilized as well as the size of fish caught the problem really boils down to the fact that there is an insufficient means of enforcement within the region to facilitate and effective means of enforcement for the agency’s policies.
Aside from the use of hadras, there has been a significant increase in the use of illegal trawling nets in order to catch Spanish mackerel during its fishing seasons.
The main problem with trawling is similar to that of the hadras since they are indiscriminate in the types of fish caught, however, unlike the hadras trawling nets are able to catch thousands of pounds of fish at a time and, as a result, this has lead to further reduction in local fish stocks since insufficient numbers of fish have been left behind in order to help boost the population.
Another problem with the local fishery industry is related to the fact that no official numbers have been collected regarding the amount of catches per fishery vessel within the Emirate.
Despite the fact that most of the fish caught is funneled through Abu Dhabi, there has been an insufficient level of investigation at the local level in order to determine whether local fisheries are staying within the catch allotments assigned to them by the government.
As a result, there is a very real possibility that overfishing is occurring which contributes to the current decline in the local aquatic species.
Management Efforts in Resolving the Identified Issues
Some environmental management efforts to resolve to the identified issues initially came in the form of freezing the amount of licenses granted to new fishermen in 2003, yet by 2004 licenses were allowed to be issued again despite the fact that there has been no sufficient recovery on the part of the local ocean life.
Other such limitations have come in the form of a limitation on the number of fishing traps (called gargoor) to 100 per boat (Al-Qaydi, 2008). However, despite this limitation on the number of traps, there was no limitation set on other types of fishing gear per vessel (i.e., nets), which enabled the fisheries to continue fishing with no apparent reduction in the amount of fish caught.
Other restrictions attempted by the local government came in the form of requiring a U.A.E. national to be on board the boat when it attempted to fish. While such a tactic worked initially, the lack of enforcement on the part of the government when it came to ensuring that U.A.E. nationals were actually on the boats themselves resulted in subsequent “ghost fishing trips” occurring wherein nationals claimed they were on the boat but were in fact nowhere near the boat in the first place (Al-Qaydi, 2008).
While the U.A.E. was able to introduce legislation to resolve the identified issues with its local fishery industry in the form of Federal Law number 23, the fact remains that there is an insufficient structure for enforcement and investigation at the local level. Catches are not monitored on a per boat basis but rather on the amounts found within the drop off centers and declared by the boats themselves resulting in the very real possibility of catch falsification in order to show compliance with local regulations.
Not only that, with no search and seizure mandates as well as sufficiently harsh criminal prosecutions on individuals who violate the established mandates on catch limitations within the coastlines of the Emirate, this shows that the current means by which the local aquatic environment is being protected is only a “show”.
There is no means by which enforcement is created and established with various public ministries merely patching up the damage rather than directly addressing the issue.
As a result of such actions, despite the attempts of the local government to create a sustainable fishing environment within the U.A.E., the fact remains that the lack of government willingness to actually establish concrete measures of enforcement and compliance has made it so that it is likely that fish populations within the U.A.E. will continue to plummet as a direct result of overfishing and the continued rapid development of construction projects along its coastlines (Al-Qaydi, 2008).
Resolving the Problems
Aside from implementing more stringent management and regulatory procedures on local fisheries, the U.A.E. government, along with various private enterprises, has actually actively sought to help address the problem of overfishing through alternative methods. One of these methods actually involves the raising of juvenile fish by the thousands at onshore facilities, which are then released into the wild to help address the issue of dwindling supplies of fish.
This program, which was enacted by the Ministry of Environment and Water’s Marine Resources Research Center has been effective in helping to temporarily curb the decline of various fish species within the past few years. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the fishing catch within the U.A.E. ha decline from 118,000 metric tons in 1999 to 90,000 tons at the present, the fact remains that the rate of reproduction of local species has yet to reach a sufficient level to become sustainable in the long run.
Adding to this problem is a general lack of public concern surrounding the issue of declining fish populations within the Emirate. What must be understood is that a vast majority of the current fish stock within many of the U.A.E.’s markets and grocery stores are actually imported from other countries and regions.
As a result, the general public has not “felt” so to speak the declining fish availability since they are used to having a large and prolific choice of fish as a direct result of international importers.
The end result of such a state of affairs is a slow and at times redundant introduction of new juvenile fish species by the Ministry of Environment and Water’s Marine Resources Research Center which do not have the desired impact due to the lack of general public support for a respite in the amount of fish caught locally (Fujiwara, 2012).
Other attempts at reducing the amount of fish caught have come in the form of establishing small fishing farms within various areas along the U.A.E. coastline in order to help raise the needed fish in a more sustainable fashion. Such attempts have actually proven to be immensely successful and have even led to the introduction of new types of fish species being introduced into the Emirate as seen in the case of the various.
Summary and Conclusion
The defining factors of a successful society in the modern-day era has been the level of industrial and technological achievement from which that society derives a certain degree of economic success and creates the trappings of what is known as the “modern-day lifestyle”.
Societies all over the world continue to strive to reach this supposed pinnacle of success; yet, the price for reaching such a goal often comes through significant environmental deterioration as seen in the case of the U.A.E.’s local fishery industry. The inherent source of the problem is not the process of industrialization itself, but the attitudes many societies have developed in response to the supposed “necessity” of reaching the goal of “modern-day success”.
People are not concerned whether or not the continued development of the U.A.E. coast leads towards the destruction of the local aquatic ecosystem nor are they overly concerned with the impact of overfishing on the local marine life, instead they are more than happy to relegate such responsibilities to the local government which itself is unwilling to take the necessary actions in fear of being labeled “too harsh” by local critics.
This is particularly troublesome when taking into consideration the difficulties involved in a conjoined societal effort to implement new practices of sustainability for the fishery industry when there is mutual distrust as a direct result of the social stratification brought about by industrialization.
Based on the various arguments presented, it can be seen that it is not the process of industrialization itself that has lead to unsustainable fishery practices and the deterioration of the local coastline environment, rather, it is the perspective of U.A.E. society at the present wherein people believe that it is necessary to industrialize in order to achieve what is perceived as a modern-day lifestyle regardless of the possible costs that is the main culprit behind the problems seen today.
As the demand for fish grows so too will the necessity of increasingly larger means of fish extraction and delivery to supply such a demand. The inherent problem with this is that the price of finite resources continues to increase over time as demand grows. There will eventually come a time where the U.A.E. will have to deal with the dwindling supply of fish and the aftereffects that continued construction and overfishing have caused on the environment.
There are already squabbles breaking out between India, China and Egypt regarding sharing the aquatic resources that feed into their respective territories with no end in sight in finding an effective solution. It is based on this that the researcher for this project advocate better methods of aquatic species conservation as well as a certain degree of self-imposed limitations on demand growth through the following methods so as to ensure that fish resources are not completely depleted within the coming years:
Use of Propaganda to Incite Public Opinion Towards Conservation
Propaganda is a method of communication which is used to influence the attitudes of specific groups of individuals towards a particular cause or position. In essence, instead of a sense of impartiality propaganda actually presents information in such a way so as to influence an audience through selective dissemination of information in order to create an emotional rather than a rational response to certain issues.
What must be understood is that propaganda utilizes elements such as loaded questions, partial synthesis or even lying by omission in order to gain the desired response. On the other hand, propaganda is also used in various public information campaigns by governments for positive effects such as the Australian governments fight against illegal downloads connoting their use with stealing and its use by the U.S. during the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq as a supposed “war on terror”.
In essence, the use of propaganda and its effects can be associated with the ethical reasoning behind its usage. It is based on this that a strategy utilizing propaganda can be utilized in order to help generate awareness and action among members of the general public within the U.A.E. in order to help them understand the current problems that the local fish population face and the sacrifices that must be done in order to resolve such an issue.
It is expected that through the proper propaganda campaigns general awareness will increase to such an extent that the government will have no choice but to implement far more stringent measures of control over the fishery industry to appease the clamor from the local population.
Implementing Methods of “Green” (i.e. Sustainable) Construction and Development
The term “green” means the utilization of technologies, ideals or concepts that put environmental stewardship at the forefront of one’s actions. In other words it is an attempt at modifying one’s behavior towards a more environmentally “friendly” course of action.
This means pursuing strategies involving the utilization of recyclable material, conserving resources rather than wasting them through negligent use, and finally advocating the pursuit of methods of environmental stewardship both in technologies used and in social action.
In a way going “green” can be described as a form of ethos, the concept of ethos can be described as a form of guiding beliefs that are an inherent part of a community or nation’s character. It is used as a guide that influences a person’s behavior to such an extent that by examining the ethos behind a culture you can determine how they will react based on a given situation.
It is based on this that it can be assumed that going “green” is an ideology that one attempts to follow due to it possessing characteristics that are appealing to a person’s inherent character and set of ideals. Such an aspect can be implemented in the case of the U.A.E. when it comes to the construction and development of its various coastal projects.
A variety of ecological sustainable practices can be implemented, which help to promote the continued health of the environment rather than destroy it. It is expected that should such “green” project developments occur, it can help to reduce the damage done by the recklessly destructive coastline construction that had occurred previously.
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