• Aden

  • Saturday, December 30, 2023 at 8:52 AM
    Last Update : Saturday, December 30, 2023 at 8:52 AM

Overfishing Threatening Fish Stocks in Southern Yemen

(AWP) - Fish stocks in southern Yemen face grave threats from overfishing due to high living costs and increasing fuel prices, prompting growing fears of the extinction of some maritime species.

“When last measured in 1993, the size of the Yemeni fish stock was approximately 400,000 tonnes, but due to overfishing, and the introduction of these harmful methods, there has been a significant decrease.

Therefore, at the present time, the fish stock is estimated to reach between 40,000 and 50,000 tonnes per year, due to the lack of marine oversight and the absence of a policy that prohibits and criminalises poaching,” said Adham Jawa, Secretary-General of the Southern Fishermen Union.

"Fishermen are a hard-working group, and are ultimately concerned with their livelihoods, but as a result of their lack of awareness, they use these methods, which they say were introduced to the country by foreign fishermen," he added.

Yemeni fisherman Mustafa Mohammed said that poaching is a result of the extremely high living expenses.
"In light of these outrageous prices, we catch any fish we find. The most important thing is to take it out and sell it to feed our children and families. Previously, fishermen worked without any guidance. Now we catch small, juvenile fish,” he said.

“We travel a distance of 20 miles to catch solo fish. We did not do that before, but now we go fishing because fish is sold for about 7000 riyals, and with these high prices, we cannot buy flour or rice, and the price of fuel is high. This has led to the extinction of some fish species, and fishermen are suffering,” he added.

Considered rich in marine wealth, Yemen’s marine environment and economy are being threatened by the overfishing problem.

Catching juvenile fish hampers existing fish stocks, as does unlicensed fishing methods that harm the marine environment.

Harmful fishing methods can include dredging the bottom of the sea, with its coral reefs, fish larvae and eggs, eliminating the natural habitats of many marine animals, in addition to fishing during off seasons, which further depletes fish stocks.

Ihab Thabet, Director of Marine Control and Inspection at the Fisheries Authority in the Gulf of Aden, told AWP that his department had carried out several awareness campaigns to teach fishermen not to use harmful equipment, adding that "fishermen complain that they have no work, no income, and fuel prices are high, so they are forced to catch whatever fish they find, with any equipment".

The war in Yemen has increased fishermen’s woes, directly damaging the businesses of more than 30,000 in coastal areas.

Additionally, it led to a decline in the average Yemeni consumption of fish annually by 80% per capita, as the average amount eaten per person dropped from 14 kilograms annually to 2.5.