Histories & Culture
Fishing in the Gulf

Gulf waters are patterned by coral reefs and shallow banks interwoven by deeper channels through which daily tides flush, ensuring a high level of mixing, thereby helping to support a rich sea-life. Different fish have various habitats, hamoor are found in the rocky areas, while saafi normally live among plants in shallow water.

Several traditional fishing methods are still used in
Bahrain. Most fish are caught in 'hadra' wooden traps, which from the air look like giant arrowheads pointing out to sea. The long sides of the arrow are in fact wooden fences, along which the tide washes the fish until they are carried into the trap at the head of the arrow, where the fish can be collected. The traps are laid so that fish moving along the shore as the tide ebbs, are lured along the long wall or "yad" towards deeper water. At the seaward end of the yad the walls curve forming a trap or "hawsh" from which the fish are unable to escape. They remain within it, in a deepened enclosure called the "sirr", until the fishermen arrive at low tide to remove their catch.

Each trap is known by a particular name. The sites of the fish traps are registered because of their obvious value. Any form of poaching is treated as a serious offence.

Another type of trap, which looks like a large lobster pot, is filled with ground bait to entice the fish through a narrow funnel. Once inside, fish cannot escape. Various nets are also used either on their own or in conjunction with traps.

Shrimp fishing has been practiced for centuries. The main fishing areas in
Bahrain are in sandy or slightly muddy water where the salinity favors the growth of plankton. The closed season starts in the second week of March when the shrimps lay their eggs and the larvae hatch. These pass to low salinity waters at Tubli Bay and off the east coast near Sitra. The open shrimp-fishing season begins on 15 June when the shrimp travel in a channel north of Bahrain from low to high saline seawater.

The modem fishing industry thrives at man-made fishing harbors with docking and landing facilities, storage areas, working sheds, ice facilities, and running water.

Fish populations have declined in the Gulf in part due to the damage by dredging for land reclamation, which has destroyed some breeding grounds.