Red Sea shore loses up to 70% of its fish stock to pollution

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Updated 27 August 2013

Red Sea shore loses up to 70% of its fish stock to pollution

Environmental pollution on the Red Sea shore has caused the loss of up to 70 percent of its fishing wealth, said an official for fishing affairs in Saudi Arabia. Despite government efforts, fish stock has depleted.
Losses in commercial fishing have led to the industry importing fish. The domestic fishing industry doesn’t cover more than 40 percent of local demand, which witnessed an increase during the summer. During that time, demand is high and catch low as a result of fish migration because of high temperatures.
“Fish production in the Red Sea has decreased during the past 20 years because of environmental pollution,” said Khalid Al-Shweiki, director-general of the Fishermen's Cooperative Society. 
"Government authorities are preventing the disposal of sewage water into the sea. These efforts contributed to stabilizing production percentages over the past five years, but these quantities can’t meet the increasing demand," he added.
“Despite the efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture and its partnership with social security experts in establishing fishing ports at various locations on the Red Sea shore, only a few Saudis continue to work in the fishing profession as compared to their forefathers,” he said, adding fishing doesn’t provide enough income to meet their daily expenses.
Even though expatriates have not been allowed to work in fishing for the past four years, they still represent the majority of those who work in the sector. Out of 20,000 fishermen, only 25 to 30 percent are Saudis.  “The entire expanse of sea lying between Jeddah and Qunfuda is polluted and has resulted in the depletion of the fish resources and the total disappearance of tuna. Reckless fishing damages the fish-breeding environment,” says Abdullah Al-Sayed, a fisherman in Jeddah.
He added that sewage-pumping is another major factor that has led to the destruction of habitats of fish and other sea organisms. Even locations away from coastal areas are not free from the ravages caused by coastal pollutants. “Undersea currents and wind carrying coastal pollutants to distant parts of the sea include locations where various types of fish grow in large numbers,” Al-Sayed told Arab News.
Pollution in the Red Sea has reached epic proportions. Coral reefs spanning thousands of kilometers along the coastline in the region are under threat of extinction. It has recently come under severe pressure due to illegal fishing, the depositing of untreated sewage, the shipping of waste including toxic substances and increased shipping activities carrying chemicals and crude oil.
Al-Shweiki said any attempt to stop incoming labor to work in fishing, especially those who are currently in the Kingdom, would threaten food security. The monthly income of these workers does not exceed SR1,500.
The low income keeps Saudis away from working in this industry, in addition to their lack of experience in this field. The price of fish is expected to go down 40 percent at the beginning of September, but nonetheless prices are much higher than they were a few years ago.


He said this is a world crisis and it is not limited to the local market.
“There is an international shortage in fish wealth, which pushed many countries to establish fish farms to curb the effects of the crisis, when demand is much higher than supply,” said Al-Shweiki. 
He pointed out that one of the most important factors that led to the fishing crisis, especially in the Red Sea, was environmental pollution, the rising temperatures during summer and the intensive fishing of gold fish. 
“Even though the price of fish in Saudi Arabia is one of the lowest in the world, its import volume from other countries reaches 60 to 70 percent to meet local demand,” he added.
Saudi Arabia imports fish from Oman, Yemen the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, which is famous for its shrimp production. Al-Shweiki said rumors about the quality of imported fish, in particular frozen fish from Vietnam, are baseless. Those who don't want people to consume fish spread these rumors, and they spring from dishonest commercial competition, he alleged. 
All fish coming into Saudi Arabia meet high specifications. Only high quality fish, which has passed all required tests, is allowed into the market, he said.


US State Department calls Saudi Arabia ‘important strategic partner’

Updated 25 February 2020

US State Department calls Saudi Arabia ‘important strategic partner’

  • The comments come following US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to the Kingdom
  • Pompeo discussed regional issues with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

WASHINGTON: The US State Department on Monday said Saudi Arabia was an "important strategic partner" and paid tribute to the "historical relations" between the two countries.

The comments come following US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to the Kingdom during a tour of Middle East and African countries last week.

The State Department added that Pompeo discussed regional issues with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and said the US-Saudi Arabia relationship was a "distinct" one that went beyond confronting Iran.

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It also said that the situation in Syria was "catastrophic," while calling on Russia and Iran to do more to protect civilians and saying there was no military solution to the conflict in the country.

The department also spoke about the situation in Iraq, saying the Iraqi Prime Minister-designate, Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, must include the Kurds and Sunnis in the formation of a government.

The US said that Iran was responsible for aggression against its interests in Iraq and said it would prevent Iraqi militias from attacking the Green Zone.