"Overall a lot more needs to be done to insure sustainability of shark population, especially species that are exceptionally vulnerable," Fordham said.
Oman and Yemen have promised to develop shark conservation plans while Oman and Abu Dhabi have started doing stock assessments of several shark species — the first step in developing a management plan.
For the most part, though, the job of data collection is left to Jabado, who for the past two years has visited fish markets across the UAE 180 times, identifying shark species, sex ratio and abundance among other things. From that, she has concluded there are 30 shark species in the waters off the coast of the UAE and 37 coming in from Oman — about two-thirds which are listed by the IUCN as near threatened or endangered including several hammerheads.
She also has interviewed more than 100 fishermen and spent more than 100 hours on boats tagging sharks in the Persian Gulf. She has only caught five sharks herself in that time, confirming what 82 percent of the Emirati fishermen she interviewed have said: Shark numbers are down and those caught are much smaller.
"They say that 15 years ago, you looked at sunset in Dubai and could see fins," Jabado said. "They used to catch monstrous sharks, sharks bigger than a bus. They don't see those sizes anymore."
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