At least 3,000 dead tuna have been found in waters off the coast of Dubai. The discovery was made on Thursday though the press only reported the news today.

The cause of death remains unclear, although an illegal fishing expedition using banned methods is likely to have been the cause.

“Analysis of the carcasses and of the waters in which they were found rules out the presence of chemical substances or substances connected with the red wave,” the Environment Ministry said, referring to the noxious wave of red algae that occasionally forms in the waters of the Gulf in certain weather conditions.

Attention has therefore turned to fishermen, who are thought to have caught more fish than their nets were able to bear. The excess weight could then have delayed or paralysed fishing mechanisms, causing the animals to die. Indeed, the tuna is known to die after two minutes of immobility.

But a number of unanswered questions remain. The chair of the association of local fishermen, Mohammad Al Marri, says that the boats involved are unlikely to have been Emirati, which are not equipped for trawling and would easily have been able to appeal for assistance from other vessels rather than wasting such a quantity of fish.

Another possibility, he said, is that boats from Oman or Iran strayed in to Emirati waters. Trawling is legal in both countries.

2010 ANSAmed