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Abandoned dhows pose environmental hazard and obstruct working vessels, fishermen say

ABU DHABI // A sunken fishing boat near Mina Zayed poses an environmental hazard to marine life and a threat to safety, fishermen say.

The 15-metre dhow sank last year, three years after it was abandoned in port.

It is not the only vessel causing problems, fishermen said.

They said up to 50 of 200 dhows at Mina Zayed were not in use and were obstructing other working boats.

Karna Karan said: “Most of the ships anchored beside the concrete wall are not in operation but nobody is removing them. If all these boats were removed, access for working ships would improve.”

The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (Ead) said in December that rotting debris from the sunken dhow was a concern for marine life but that the boat did not fall under its jurisdiction.

“Ead is, of course, concerned with the environmental impact of this incident and has raised the issue for action by the concerned authority,” said the agency.

“Ead is only in charge of fisheries management – that is issuing commercial and recreational fishing licences – and is also on the fisheries committee with the Ministry of Environment and Water to approve commercial fishing boat licences.”

It said it would raise the matter with authorities, but so far nothing has happened.

The Ministry of Environment and Water said last week the boat was not its responsibility and that it was still unclear who would remove it.

Fishermen said the boat sank because of its age and neglected condition.

“The boat was stationed here for years and its owner entirely left it,” said Ransoda Tandle, a fisherman of 25 years. “One day, it suddenly sank and now it has been left unattended for three years.

“When the ship became old and unfit to sail, its owner abandoned it here, taking its engine and valuables.”

Mr Tandle said the floating debris was also preventing larger boats from mooring up. “If the concerned people clear this, it will ease sailing and anchoring for other dhows,” he said.

Mr Karan, from Tamil Nadu, India, said another issue that fishermen faced was that those carrying out maintenance work on boats were known to throw rubbish into the water.

“Fishermen who carry out maintenance works to their boats throw garbage and useless stuff into the sea, but nobody is cleaning it up,” he said.

Biju Bhai Khapa, of Gujarat, who has been fishing in the UAE for 15 years, said the old fishing vessels should be salvaged from the water.

“I don’t understand why nobody takes care of the old dhows,” he said. “If you don’t want to run it, just take it out of the sea.”

Mr Khapa said the abandonment of old boats had been a problem for years.

The Abu Dhabi Fishermen Cooperative Society, which has its base beside the dock, said it was not aware of the sunken dhow.

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(via The National)