EWS-WWF launches awareness campaign promoting sustainable fisheries
Hamour, a highly favoured fish in the UAE, is being overfished 7 times beyond its sustainable level; residents of the Emirates are urged to 'choose wisely' at supermarkets and restaurants.
April 27, 2010 1:14 by Ben Flanagan
Abu Dhabi, 25th of April, 2010: EWS-WWF has launched the “Choose Wisely” campaign, aiming to raise awareness of the status of UAE fish stocks and to promote sustainable fisheries.
The Launch event took place on a yacht that cruised Abu Dhabi coast, while the invitees enjoyed a lunch made of sustainable fish, demonstrating to everyone that choosing wisely can open up the doors to new options and flavours.
Recent surveys conducted by the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF) have shown that 66% of the UAE population eat fish at least once a week. With its increasing popularity, the high demand for seafood is putting an increasing pressure on the fish stock, resulting in a noticeable decline of about 80% over the last 3 decades. Hamour, a highly favoured fish in the UAE, is being overfished 7 times beyond its sustainable level, with a decline of 87-92% since 1978, putting it at the top of the overfished species list.
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EWS said: “Fish forms an essential part of our marine ecological system, a stable component in our local diet, while fishing constitutes an important part of our cultural heritage. Many of our forefathers were fishermen, sustaining families and communities from this valuable resource and bringing tales of the sea to our cultural consciousness and memory.”
It has only been over the last 3 decades, with the commercializing of this sector and habitat destruction, that we have started witnessing an alarming decline in our fish stock, calling for our efforts towards protecting this valuable resource. In sustaining this resource, we will not only protect our precious and fragile marine ecosystem, but we will also conserve part of our cultural heritage. We bring this campaign to the residents of the UAE, aiming to empower them with consumer information about the status of these local valuable species, hoping to inspire them to Choose Wisely.”
Aiming to provide people with the necessary knowledge to make an informed and wise choice, a wallet size consumer guide has been developed with the support of Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi (EAD), classifying 19 popular fish types into 3 categories, based on stock assessment studies that have been carried out by scientists at EAD. The guide assigns a colour to each of those categories; red distinguishing overfished types that include many of the popularly consumed fish, such as Shaari, Kanaad, Farsh, and Hamour.
The guide also marks other options with orange and green, giving UAE residents the opportunity to try different types of fish that are available within sustainable levels. This guide will be available in print from EWS –WWF offices, and it can be accessed and downloaded on the campaign’s website www.choosewisely.ae.
For those who enjoy cooking, a database of recipes based on sustainable fish has been created on www.choosewisely.ae. For the more competitive cooking lovers, the campaign has also launched a 5 month “Sustainable Fish Dish” challenge, encouraging people to come up with recipes for sustainable fish, in order to bring these sustainable varieties of fish closer to what we consider familiar and habitual. Details of the challenge can be found on the campaign website.
The Choose Wisely campaign is supported by the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi and EWS-WWF is actively seeking sponsors to help raise awareness of this important issue. EWS-WWF is also seeking retailers and restaurants that wish to get on board and become advocates of sustainable fishing, by offering sustainable varieties of local fish as well as making the consumer guide available to their customers.
His Excellency Majid Al Mansouri, Secretary General of the Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi said: “The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi is working hand-in-hand with UAE fishing communities to develop well-managed fisheries and create new economic incentives for a sustainable future for fish and other marine life. We welcome the “Choose Wisely” Campaign, bringing awareness closer to the end consumer. They can take part in reducing the demand for the heavily overfished species by choosing other fish, while still maintaining an appetite for eating it. Securing healthy fish populations is essential to protect ocean ecosystems and guarantee that our children inherit a living planet abundant with fish and other marine wildlife.”
About Emirates Wildlife Society in association with WWF (EWS-WWF)
Emirates Wildlife Society is a national (UAE) environmental non-governmental organization. EWS is established under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western region and Chairman of Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD). EWS works in association with WWF, one of the world’s largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with more than 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. EWS-WWF has been active in the UAE since 2001 and has initiated and implemented several conservation and education projects in the region. The mission of EWS-WWF is to conserve the natural heritage of the UAE and to promote sustainable lifestyles.
For more information please visit www.ewswwf.ae
About Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD)
The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) is a governmental agency that was established in 1996. It is committed to protecting and managing biodiversity, providing a clean environment and promoting Sustainable Development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. EAD provides a direction for Government, business and the community to build environmental considerations into the way they plan and live without compromising Abu Dhabi development. EAD has been promoting public environmental awareness since it was established. EAD’s environmental education efforts have won several awards including the International Globe Energy Award and the GCC Award for Environment Education and Awareness.
For more information please visit www.ead.ae