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Bahrain’s Shrimp Stocks Drop Due to Illegal Fishing

26 August 2014

BAHRAIN - Fishermen in Bahrain have reported a "significant" drop in shrimp stocks in the last month because of illegal fishing.

Fishermen's Protection Society president Jassim Al Jeran said the season so far has been abysmal, despite a strong start during the first few days following the lifting of a seasonal ban on shrimping on 16 July, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), sister publication of TradeArabia.

He said the catch was "so poor" that many fishermen have stopped heading out on a daily basis. "The first few days after the ban was lifted in July were great," he told the GDN.

"We caught double the amount we thought we were going to get, but ever since, it's been really low.

"A good season would mean between 80kg and 120kg of catch per dhow, and if it's not great we expect between 40kg and 60kg.

"However, fishermen are currently only catching about 20kg each.

"As a result, many aren't going out every day anymore.

"They miss out days because going out to sea wouldn't cover their expenses if they don't catch more shrimp."

A ban on shrimping is imposed in Bahraini waters every year from 15 March to 15 July, which coincides with the mating season of the popular crustacean, considered a local delicacy.

It is intended to allow shrimp stocks to replenish and is also imposed in other GCC countries.

"The people who are fishing illegally during the four-month ban are to blame," said Mr Al Jeran.

"But there should also be stricter enforcement of the law and people should have harsh punishments if they catch shrimp illegally during that time.

"Due to them catching all the shrimp, both small and big, there isn't enough to reproduce now."

However, he said fishermen hope changes in the weather next month will help increase the daily catch.

"The sea bed will begin to get cooler next month, as a result the shrimp will move in from the surrounding area into our territorial waters and we'll be able to catch them," he explained.

"We're not sure, but we hope that will be the case."

There are 275 dhows with shrimping licences in Bahrain, which the society says is unsustainable. Authorities concerned were unavailable for comment.

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