From dhows to trawlers

The place in question is the gulf between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran, long known to English speakers as the ‘Persian Gulf’, recently renamed ‘Arabian Gulf’ (even though there is already a more imposing ‘Arabian Sea’), and which those who want to avoid trouble – including ourselves – name the ‘Gulf’, even though will get complaints from both sides in any case… Be as it may, the Gulf is important, not only because so much of the oil consumed in the world transits through the Strait of Hormuz, its outlet, but also because it is on its shore that much of the history of the Arab and Iranian people unfolded, and where their future will continue to unfold. The waters of the Gulf were not only used for trade – although this was always a very important component of the Gulf’s culture – but also as an important source of seafood. The latter role of the Gulf has become more and more important in recent decades, as the populations and income in the Gulf countries grew. Indeed, a situation has been reached now where the fisheries resources are overexploited in most of the Gulf’s countries, and catches have ceased to increase. So far, reviews of the Gulf’s fisheries have been based on analyses of the ‘catch’ data, which the Gulf countries – all members of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) – submit annually to FAO. However, it is now well established that official data of this sort throughout the world, tend to misreport actual catches (i.e., all the fish and invertebrates killed by fishing), and the Gulf countries are no exception. To compensate for this, the chapters included in this report presents, for each country in the Gulf time series of ‘reconstructed catch’, i.e., of the catches of all their fisheries (industrial, artisanal, recreational, subsistence, etc.) and the discards (fish caught, but discarded at sea). This will allow the impact of the fisheries of the Gulf and its ecosystems to be assessed and realistic management measures to be implemented, which they all need.

Al-Abdulrazzak, D. and D. Pauly (eds.). 2013. From dhows to trawlers: A recent history of fisheries in the Gulf countries: 1950-2010. Fisheries Centre Research Reports 21 (2). University of British Columbia, Vancouver.

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