As the result of a new law that makes it compulsory for Qatari owners to accompany small fishing boats when they venture into the sea on fishing expeditions has led to a radical fall in the number of licensed boats.
According to a senior official, the numbers have fallen to a quarter (200) of the 800 such boats before the new legislation was brought into force.
“We have noticed that not many Qataris like to venture into the sea in the night,” said the Director of the Coast Guard, Brigadier Ali Ahmed Al Badeed.
The new fishing law was passed three years ago, in 2010, and allows big fishing trawlers to be manned entirely by non-Qataris, but not small fishing boats.
Small boats must have the Qatari owner on the boat when it goes on a fishing expedition, and the thinking behind this is that he would ensure that Qatar’s fish resources are not threatened.
“Earlier, we allowed non-Qataris to man the small fishing boats, and as a result there have been increasing violations of laws that seek to protect Qatar’s marine life and fish resources,” the official told local Arabic daily Al Raya.
“So the practice was stopped.” But the outcome has been that the number of small licensed fishing boats has dropped sharply.
Al Badeed said most violations by fishing boats were related to use of nylon nets that have three layers; these are not allowed by law because they pose a threat to the marine environment.
According to him, attempts to smuggle drugs into the country have come down because of strict vigilance by the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard have sensitive and powerful radars that can detect any suspicious movement in Qatar’s territorial waters.
“We have become more experienced in monitoring our country’s coastline. We have speedboats, so the moment we sight a suspicious vessel, members of our task force chase and intercept them.”
The Coast Guard also have rescue teams. One mishap that happens out at sea is that sometimes boats catch fire.
Some seven to eight such incidents occur every year.
The official said not too long ago, a vessel coming in from the south was carrying as much as 100 kilograms of hashish and another was speeding towards it to receive the consignment.
“Our task force chased the boats and caught the culprits and we thus foiled the bid to smuggle huge quantities of narcotics into our country.”
Source : Qatar Chronicle
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