RIYADH: Saudi Fisheries Co. has accumulated years of expertise in the Kingdom’s marine sector since its establishment in 1980, even as its stock tumbled over the years.
Owing to major steps taken by the fisheries firm and peers in the industry, Saudi Arabia saw its traditional aquaculture industry transform into an export-oriented and modernized hub.
The Saudi Arabian fisheries market reached a total production volume of 140,000 tons in 2020, including 80,000 tons in aquaculture and 60,000 tons of traditional wild-catch fishery on the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.
However, the demand for fish products within the Kingdom stood at 282,000 tons — meaning import levels are currently high.
Saudi Fisheries, valued at around SR1.9 billion ($500 million), aims to exploit marine resources in Saudi waters and meet rising demand, through its fleet of 32 fishing vessels, processing plants, and retail stores.
The Saudi private sector holds 60 percent of its share capital, while the remaining 40 percent is government-owned.
The Riyadh-based company runs its operations in factories across Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, and Jizan, and exports its fishery products to several foreign countries.
In compliance with Vision 2030, it processes products in a way that ensures high quality and food safety.
The company took a leap in 1993 when it launched a shrimp farm in Huraidah on the Red Sea coast, with a production capacity of more than 1,700 tons per year, according to the company’s website.
Shares of the firm, which is known to be one of the pioneers in its field, hit a peak of over SR500 in late 2006. Today, the stock is at SR46.8 as of Jan. 26, 2022.
In 2021, the share price dropped 17 percent to exit the year at SR45.5 after it jumped more than twofold during pandemic-hit 2020.
Saudi Fisheries widened its net loss in the first nine months of 2021 by 45 percent to SR37.8 million as the impairment of one of its farms and higher expenses weighed on earnings. Revenues were up by 12 percent to SR33.8 million.
In 2020, fish sales contributed to SR15.6 million of revenues, shrimp sales yielded SR3.2 million, and SR22.1 million was recorded from other products.
On a wider scale, Saudi Arabia is taking several steps to boost its aquaculture and plans to increase the sector’s yield fivefold by 2030 through a public-private partnership.
The sector is expected to get a boost in the short-to-medium term through various projects to increase production to 600,000 tons per year, Deputy Minister for Agriculture Ahmed Aleyada told Arab News in December.