Secretary General of the Arab Federation of Fish Producers, Mohammed Radhi Hassen visited Yemen to discuss with the Yemeni Minister of Fisheries the latest developments concerning the establishment of the Arab Council of Fisheries based on the recommendations of the Ministerial Meeting. Yemen heads the Arab Union of Producers of Fish in its current period 2013-2017 aim to develop the fisheries sector in Yemen.
Although Yemen’s extensive marine resources have the potential to produce 840,000 tons of fish each year, the fishing industry is relatively underdeveloped and consists largely of individual fishermen in small boats.
Yemen has a coastline with a length of more than 2,000 km that is rich with fish and marine creatures, in addition to 182 Islands including Kamaran, Zagr, Hunish , Socotra, Abd al-Kore, Darsa and Samha.
The territorial waters of Yemen contain more than 350 kinds of fish. Therefore the fisheries sector is one of the most important sectors of the Yemeni economy. Ratios of fisheries sector contribution in the Gross Domestic Product range between 1-2% with an estimated value of about 49.496 million riyals, according to the latest statistics.
Studies indicate that the ratio of fish production in the Aden Gulf, Socotra and the Southern Red Sea is greater than the production in many countries. According to the studies, the amount of production in the Red Sea ranges annually between 18 to 20 tons, while the amount of annual production in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea ranges from 90 tons to 120 thousand tons, and up to 300 thousand tons if exploited well. The seas of Yemen are an essential source to meet the needs of the population of the fish which it is an essential element in the food of the citizens of the coastal areas. Fisheries are considered one of the most important renewable natural resources and an important source of national income.
The biggest difficulty facing the fisheries in Yemen is overfishing, where many fishermen don’t know the suitable time to fish for some kinds of the fish. Many of the fish in the Red Sea coast that border the province of Hodeida started becoming extinct, mostly shrimp, which have declined by 50% due to the fishermen practices of irresponsible fishing.
Awad Al-Suqatri, Minister of Fisheries, said that it was right that the Ministry granted licenses to commercial boats to fish in the Yemeni borders with the presence of maritime observers from the ministry with the boats during the trip, although, there are some foreign boats fishing illegally in deep territorial waters. “We still suffer from these boats that rob part of our fisheries resources, he said.
Al-Suqatri added that indicators said that fishery resource depletion in recent years is due to traditional fishermen who, unfortunately, do not adhere to seasons of fishing and are developing illegal ways to fish.
A report of the Ministry said that fishermen are the key element in the process of fish production, numbering about eighty thousand fishermen and producing 97% of the quantities of fish production of 200 thousand tons per year. Therefore, the Ministry pays much attention to the situation of fishermen and addresses their problems and requirements in coordination with the Cooperative Union of Fish.
Many companies seek to invest in Yemen, especially in the fishing side. There are a number of national companies working in the fish side of investment and most of them work in the preparation, preservation, canning, and exporting of fish. There are five companies involved in the manufacture of small, medium, and big fish boats.
“These companies play an important role in the national economy. At a time when they are buying fish from fishermen, they are creating an added value through the process of preparation, preservation, packaging, and exporting fish, which provide job opportunities for citizens and raise the value of exported fish which reach about 290 million dollars as an annual average,” said Al-Suqatri.
The average quantity of exported fish is about 115 thousand tons with a value of about 290 million dollars a year. This quantity is low due to the lack of value-added. The Ministry is seeking to reduce the ratio of exported quantities of fresh fish to include value added during preparation, preservation, and processing and then exporting.
Al-Suqatri added that the Ministry, in coordination with the leadership of the Cooperative Fisheries Union and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, seeks to
amend the Cooperative Societies Act No. 39 of 1998 and to work on new regulations for the establishment of cooperative societies and to correct the current situation that leads to the revival of a cooperative work spirit and creates a cooperative and harmonious atmosphere in the community of fishermen by maintaining the fishery resources in their areas permanently.