‘Picking oysters on UAE beach is illegal’

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Municipality inspectors will launch monitoring campaign in November

Dubai: The rising number of Asian residents who pick oysters off rocks at Jumeirah Open Beach has caused a rift between fishermen, as municipal inspectors have been called more frequently to fine violators and settle the dispute.

Fishing for commercial purposes is not allowed in Dubai waters if residents do not have a commercial licence to do so, and municipal inspectors have been on a constant watch to stop the regular disputes that tend to break out between fishermen and the Asian community.

“We get regular reports every Thursday and Friday night about a large community of people who go near the rocks at Jumeirah Open Beach and dive for oysters. We impose fines on divers not only because they are disrupting the trade of the fishermen but also because there are many fishing boats found nearby, and it is dangerous to swim near the rocks as it could lead to a fatal accident,” Khalid Sulaiteen, head of the Environmental Emergency Office at Dubai Municipality, told Gulf News yesterday.

Beachgoers caught swimming near the rocks are clearly instructed by signboards not to swim in the beach at night, or near the rocks. Anybody caught fishing or diving for oysters and other marine life can be slapped with a fine from Dh1,000 to Dh2,000.

“The majority of the reported incidents of diving illegally for oysters tend to happen between 11pm and 1am. Oysters are expensive and this causes a great loss for the fishermen who have dedicated most of their life to the profession,” said Sulaiteen.

As the weather cools down and the number of beachgoers are expected to increase, Dubai Municipality has intensified inspections across Dubai beaches to ensure residents keep it clean and do not pollute the environment.

“In November, we will start carrying out intense inspections at Dubai Creek, Al Mamzar, Al Sufouh and Jumeirah Open Beach. As more people visit the beach, we expect more beachgoers to leave behind an exceptionally high level of waste as residents still do not have the culture of cleaning up,” he said.

Sulaiteen pointed out that many beachgoers that barbeque tend to leave the scalding coal on the sand, and leave bags near the rubbish bins instead of placing them inside the containers.

One surprising way of harming the beach is when beachgoers fill their empty water bottles with sea water, and throw it into the sea.

“Lat year, we recovered almost 300 bottles of seawater from Al Mamzar beach. This sort of practice shocks and surprises me because I do not see how anyone can have such disregard for the environment,” he added.

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