AL-MUKALLA: Fish prices have decreased by more than half in parts of Yemen after a ban on exports created an oversupply in local markets.
Fishmongers and fishermen in the southern city of Al-Mukalla and other areas of the Red Sea province of Hodeidah told Arab News that local markets were stocked after months of scarcity.
A kilo of tuna was selling for about 3,000 Yemeni riyals ($3.60) at the weekend, down from 8,000 riyals a month earlier in Al-Mukalla and more than 12,000 riyals in Aden. Grouper has fallen from 10,000 to less than 1,500 Yemeni riyals a kilo.
The Ministry of Fisheries in Aden put a blanket ban on fish exports to neighboring countries and other nations at the end of last month, as prices soared and protests mounted.
Yemeni fishermen and traders blamed rising fuel costs and unchecked overfishing by commercial ships for high prices.
Some Yemenis, however, claimed that local businessmen and fishermen would rather export fish for hard currency than sell to locals.
However, some fishermen told Arab News that fresh fish has spoiled because local markets are overstocked and that some fishermen stopped working as they were unable to sell their catch, urging the government to lift the ban.
Due to high fuel and ice costs, fishermen in the western province of Hodeidah said they pay between 5 million and 15 million Yemeni riyals on each voyage to transport fish from Eritrea or Somalia, in addition to over $10,000 on a fishing license from authorities in the two countries.
“If the government wants to lower the price of fish, it must subsidize oil derivatives, wheat, and bread, and fund fishing equipment and ice factories,” a member of fishery cooperation in Hodeida’s Khokha, who wished to remain anonymous, told Arab News.
Meanwhile, hundreds of fishermen in the province stopped going to sea in protest of the ban that reduced the per kg price of greasy
Some cities have yet to benefit. Shoppers in Shabwa have complained that prices remain high and that fish is not arriving from other provinces.
“The problem is that the ban has not only halted exports abroad, but certain provinces with an abundant catch have also banned shipments to other Yemeni towns,” Omer Gambeet, head of Fisheries Cooperative Union, told Arab News.
“The state should be more lenient and should be aware that enormous quantities of fish have decayed in the market because fishermen were unable to sell them.”
Maj. Salem Abdullah Al-Soqotri, minister of agriculture, irrigation, and fisheries, promised a meeting of fishermen’s unions to loosen the ban by enabling the export of 10 species, including grouper, and to abolish the embargo after distribution on the local market had stabilized.