Fishing industry in crisis

Fishing industry in crisis
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Fishing industry in crisis
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Updated 08 November 2013

Fishing industry in crisis

Fishing industry in crisis

The Cooperative Society of Fishermen in Makkah has said that fish hauls along the coast of the Red Sea have dropped dramatically in recent months and warned of further decline if no measure is taken.
A cooperative official said many factors contributed to the decline, including the pollution off the sea by sewage waters, coastal erosion, migration of fish to neighboring waters, global warming and the lack of rain and floods.
Khalid Al-Shwaiki, the general director of the society in Makkah, said statistics of the Ministry of Agriculture show the possibility of fish disappearing from the Red Sea in the next decade.
“Production of fish dropped by 70 percent this year, and this is expected to drop to 90 percent next year,” Shwaiki said, adding: “This decline is all the more alarming as it covers a coast of 2,000 km, one of the longest coasts in the world.”
As a result, he said, it is expected that import of fish will be 100 percent, emphasizing that fish revenues in Jeddah's fish market exceeded SR1 billion.
“It is so difficult to nationalize jobs in fishing since the number of fishermen in the Kingdom is not more than 20,000, of whom just 30 to 40 percent are Saudis,” he said.
Al-Shwaiki expects the low tide in the fishing industry, considering the threats to the profession, to touch SR300,000.
“That is in addition to the variable levels of income, and the fee every fisherman pays to the government — SR8,000 — as well as the restricted period during which fishing is practiced.”
He said that Saudization process can be applied in sectors such as port services, naval guidance and various fisheries.
Officials and workers in the sector admitted there was a decline in demand for the fishing profession, mainly because of the problems fishermen face, especially after the decision by the Ministry of Labor to restrict employment of expatriates in a bid to promote Saudization.
Salem Al-Dhahri, a businessman and member of the Fishermen's Committee in the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said fishermen are faced with several problems, including shortage of labor, and not allowing fishermen to employ expatriates, besides tightening procedures by labor office and fisheries department.
“The number of fishing boats ranges between 100 and 150, while the number of Saudi fishermen is 20 and the rest are expatriates from Bangladesh, Egypt, India and Yemen,” he said.
He attributed the high prices of fish to the “primitive fishing methods” which blocks access to certain sea depths, the limited quantities of fish, and the labor that hire the boats, which takes advantage of the limited number of workers and takes control of the fishing days limiting it to three days a week.
“The prices will not decrease in the near future,” he said, adding that boats be disbursed to the fishermen in Rabigh, Mastoura and Yanbu.
Sami Mohammadi, a fisherman, demanded that maritime officials establish berths in Rabigh and Mastoura, and reverse the decision to reduce foreign labor and Saudization of the profession.