Regulating fishing practices
The UAE aims to end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible. This is one of the ways to achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources.
These legislations specify areas where fishing is prohibited, species not allowed for fishing and the seasons of fishing suspension. Some of these legislations are in Arabic for reference. All files are in PDF.
Read about UAE efforts to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Complying with fishing regulations
Make sure to observe the following when practising fishing activities in the UAE:
These guidelines specify basic safety standards for safe sailing. Check the boat lights, the vessel engines and adequate quantities of spare fuel are available before sailing.
Ensure the availability of sufficient life rings for the boat crew and portable torches and navigational devices that determine the location and the route of the boat.
You must go through the Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority checkpoints before sailing and upon returning to register the trip and the crew numbers.
Read about the UAE’s efforts to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
Hadaq – an interactive map for fishing in the UAE
Hadaq is an interactive geographical map that functions as an electronic guide for understanding the regulatory framework governing the fishing sector in the UAE. This map serves many goals. Some of the goals are to:
- define the geographical location of fishing boats in the permitted fishing limits and areas
- display protected areas and zones along the UAE’s coastline where fishing is prohibited
- provide information on seasons
- highlight technical specifications for permitted tools, based on the geographical location of the fishing boat.
Read about the features and benefits of the Hadaq system.
Fishing boats registration
Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is in charge of issuing licences and registering fishing boats all over the UAE. Read about the Ministerial Resolution No. 212 of 2021 on new fishing boat licensing.
Fishing licensing in Abu Dhabi
Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi is the competent authority, which provides licences for fishing within the regional water of the emirate. The agency provides a number of fishing licensing services, including:
Commercial fishing licences
Commercial fishing licences are issued to professional fishermen in Abu Dhabi. To get this service, the following conditions the applicant:
Must be a UAE citizen and registered with Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCaE)
must have a fishing boat registered by the MoCCaE
must have good conduct and behaviour
must be at least 18 years old
must comply with decisions issued by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi and use allowed fishing equipment.
Hadhra fishing licence
Hadhra is a traditional fishing method used in shallow coastal areas. This licence is issued to traditional UAE fishers.
Fishing net permit (Al Ghazal)
This permit is issued to fishermen who own a speedboat and hold a commercial fishing licence. Net fishing is permitted in the waters of Abu Dhabi except for the areas banned by Law No. 23 of 1999 on the Exploitation and Protection of Living Aquatic Resources in the UAE (PDF), and the related local decisions. This service is provided to owners of fishing boats only, not of big fishing vessels.
Weekly recreational fishing licence
The public can apply for this licence, which enables them to fish on the Abu Dhabi beaches. It is issued to UAE citizens, residents and tourists.
Annual recreational fishing licence
Holders of the annual recreational fishing licences are allowed to fish on the Abu Dhabi beaches. This licence is valid for one year and issued to citizens, residents and tourists.
A gargour is a cage-like fishing trap with an opening that allows the fish to swim inside without being able to escape. It targets deep-water fish such as the hammour, jesh and zuraidi. Gargour permits are issued for commercial fishers having big fishing launches (motor-engine powered dhow).
‘Bohoor’ signifies internal waters and the UAE’s regional waters within the Abu Dhabi emirate. This permit allows traditional fishers to practise fishing in these areas. It can be renewed every 4 years.
Dufara fishing permit
Dufara is a small fishing net used in shallow waters to catch fish such as the golden trevally, scaled queenfish and the yellowtail scad. This service requires the applicant to have a registered fishing boat.
Fishing licensing in Dubai
The Natural Resources Protection section of Dubai Municipality is the competent authority to provide licensing services for fishing within the emirate’s regional water. There are two types of fishing licensing service provided by Dubai Municipality:
Recreational fishing licence
This service enables the customer to obtain a licence for recreational fishing using the fishing rod only. This licence allows fishing from the coast, or using a boat in coastal waters of the emirate of Dubai. Fishing will be in compliance with the terms of the Federal Law No. 23 of 1999 amended by Federal Law No. 7 of 2016 on Protection and Development of Bio-Aquatic resources in the UAE and related regulations. This service is available to citizens and residents. The licence is valid for a renewable term of one year. The service is suspended from June to October of every year to keep sustainable consumption of local fish resources.
Artisanal fishing licence
This service enables the customer to obtain fishing licence in the UAE’s marine waters as per the Federal Law No. 23 of 1999 amended by Federal Law No. 7 of 2016 on the requirement of protection, and development of Bio-Aquatic resources in the UAE and according to the procedures of Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. This service is available and eligible by UAE national artesian fishers. Applying for this service requires an approval from the local fishing organisation.
Check fishing services available for individuals and businesses on the eServices page of Dubai Municipality under (marine and coastal environment category).
Fishing licensing in RAK
In Ras Al Khaimah, Environment Protection and Development Authority is the entity competent to issue fishing licences in the regional waters of the emirate. Its duties include regulation of fishing and protection of fish resources in the emirate. Fishing for recreational or commercial purposes is not allowed in Ras Al Khaimah without obtaining a licence from the authority.
Related links (all in PDF)