The director general of the fish resources department in the Saudi agriculture ministry, Mohammed Bin Jaber Al-Sahleh, was cited by Al-Watan newspaper stating that although Saudi Arabia endows tremendous capabilities and resources as far as the fishing sector is concerned, during the past few years, the related authorities have not invested in this sector adequately.
Sahleh estimates that the domestic demand for fish will rise as high as 140,000 tons through 2000-2005, whereas the domestic fish output totaled 51,000 tons in 1999. He added that 148 breeding farms are currently operating locally, with the output of 80 percent of these totaling 47,500 tons per annum.
The Saudi coasts along the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf are more than 2,400 kilometers long. If the kingdom had sufficiently developed at least 10 percent of these coastal areas, it most likely would have gained billions of riyals from fishing and achieved self-sufficiency as far as fish consumption is concerned.
In an effort to protect and preserve the shrimps in the Arabian Gulf coasts, shrimp fishing is usually forbidden between February and July of every year. During this period, the price of shrimp amounts to SR 60 ($16) per kilogram, while during the rest of the year, this price is cut by half. —(Albawaba-MEBG)