The waters of the Arabian Gulf, its islands, coastlines and fisheries are of fundamental importance to the people of Abu Dhabi Emirate, the UAE and the region. Historically, the emirate’s fishery resources sustained the population. Fishing and harvesting marine resources was integral to their survival, with the sea linking Abu Dhabi Emirate to the Arabian Gulf region and the rest of the world. Whether on the coast or inland, all life in the emirate and wider UAE was fundamentally connected to fishery resources and the maritime domain.

Current State

7.6 %

Of fish harvested sustainably in 2015


The emirate’s rapidly growing population and expanding tourism sector are increasing the demand for seafood.


Over-capacity in the fishing fleet, coastal development, cumulative desalination activities and pollution, as well as climate change, cause pressure on the emirate’s fisheries.


Abu Dhabi Emirate’s principal fisheries resources have experienced severe over-exploitation as a result of these pressures. There has been an estimated 90 % decline in abundance of commercially exploited demersal species over the past 30 years.


This decline in the state of Abu Dhabi Emirate’s fisheries causes social, economic and environmental impacts. Fisheries' contribution to future food security is jeopardised, as is the opportunity for employment in the sector. There is also a loss of recreational value and tourism opportunities. A reduction in ecosystem function may have far-reaching effects on Abu Dhabi Emirate’s maritime domain.


A comprehensive UAE-wide fisheries change management programme is being undertaken. Known as the UAE Sustainable Fisheries Programme, this is being implemented to ensure the continuity of Emirati fishing traditions, targeting a sustainably-utilised fishery by 2030.

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