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Unregulated fishing in Yemen threatens the marine environment and people's livelihood

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

For years, the coasts of #Hadramout, #Aden, and #Al-Mahrah have been witnessing the death of fish and marine organisms due to unregulated fishing and pollution of sea water.
صورة توضح نفوق الأسماك في اليمن
Dead fish on one of the Yemeni coasts

Last May, the illegal use of particular fishing tactics killed a considerable number of fish in Al-Mahra Governorate, southeastern Yemen. The incident brought to light the issue of overfishing and illicit or unregulated fishing in Yemen, as well as water pollution in the Arabian and Red Seas.

Illegal, or even legal but unregulated, fishing can have a negative impact on the marine environment. Overfishing, or fishing at a rate that does not allow it to reproduce and sustain its population, can be damaging to the marine environment, leading to extinction or endangerment.

The death of fish in Yemen does not pose a short-term hazard to the marine environment, but it can have a long-term impact. As a result, the population's livelihood is threatened both now and in the future, as many Yemenis rely on fishing for income and sustenance.

Some fishing methods, such as trawling, can be harmful to the marine ecosystem. Trawling nets are not selective; they kill all animals that get in their way. Indiscriminate net fishing without proper control measures results in bycatch; this frequently involves the hunting of non-target species such as endangered marine mammals (such as dolphins), sea turtles, sharks, and so on, putting additional pressure on these already threatened populations.

Using the Al-Mahra Governorate as an example, it was discovered that fish deaths were caused by the use of nets (Al-Hawi or Al-Shartawanat), where undesired fish or those that surpass the fishermen's ability to carry are dumped once the nets are removed.

It is worth noting that Yemen's marine environment has long been neglected in terms of sustainability and safety. Because of illicit or uncontrolled fishing, as well as water contamination caused by leaks and trash disposal. For example, in recent years, the coastlines of Mukalla in Hadramout and Aden have been repeatedly exposed to the dangers of fuel spills from fragile ships.

The Safer floating tank in the Red Sea fears a large oil disaster unless the ship is discharged of the oil that has been trapped inside it for years. The Safer oil disaster might cause catastrophic harm to the Red Sea, resulting in its shutdown and damage to desalination units in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as detrimental consequences for neighboring countries.

There are numerous techniques for protecting the seas from pollution and fish stocks, such as enacting stricter waste disposal and wastewater treatment legislation.

Protected areas can be constructed to allow fish to recuperate and thrive while restricting human activity in some regions of the maritime environment, thereby conserving natural fish stocks.

In addition to careful control, educating fishermen on selective fishing gear or tactics can greatly reduce unplanned or discarded catches while requiring little work or money. In general, a comprehensive multisectoral approach involving government agencies, the public and commercial sectors, and civil society groups should be taken.


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