Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 February 2020

‘Don’t be shellfish’: Saudi Arabia's shrimp fishing ban comes into force

The six-month ban is designed to help replenish stocks

Saudi Arabia’s annual shrimp fishing ban came into force on Saturday, with the threat of hefty fines for those who break the rules.

The six-month ban is part of efforts to restore shrimp stocks along the Gulf coast and bring longevity to an important economic resource.

Shrimp fishing and farming are becoming increasingly important to the kingdom as it looks to reduce its dependence on oil.

Saudi shrimp is sold in 32 countries and a box of large shrimp can be worth up to 1,100 Saudi riyals (Dh1,075).

Strong new projects are in the pipeline under construction, with big investments and international investors on the way

Haydar Al Sahtout

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 specified that the development and expansion of the aquaculture sector was important for food security and job creation in rural areas.

The plan also aims to increase Saudi women's participation in the workforce from 22 per cent to 30 per cent. It is thought some of these women will work in the aquaculture sector.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, which announced the ban, called on fishermen to comply with the fishing regulations to maintain the sustainability of the “national wealth”.

Those caught flouting the ban face fines of up to 10,000 riyals.

The ban will be lifted at the end of July, as the fishing season begins to pick up.

The kingdom is also investing in farmed shrimp as part of the aquaculture development programme.

On Thursday, four Saudi aquaculture companies merged in a 500 million riyal deal, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The merger “will contribute to achieving the ministry’s goals in raising the productivity of local aquaculture,” Abdulrahman Al Fadhli, Minister for Environment, Water and Agriculture, told SPA.

Haydar Al Sahtout, an adviser to the Saudi Aquaculture Society, said in November that the kingdom was on course to increase its farmed shrimp output to 200,000 tonnes by 2025. Output in 2018 was more than 60,000 tonnes.

“Strong new projects are in the pipeline under construction, with big investments and international investors on the way. Many of you have heard or read about the plans now,” Mr Al Sahtout told the Infofish shrimp conference in Bangkok, Thailand, according to a report by seafood news service Undercurrent News.

Updated: February 3, 2020 10:42 AM

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