Ahmed Hizam: “The GECF has achieved sales figures of YR 387 million during 1996. [Archives:1997/44/Business & Economy]
“The General Establishment for Coastal Fishing (GECF) was established immediately after the independence of the southern part of Yemen in 1967. With branches in Aden, Hadhramaut and Mahara, the GECF covers the needs of all Yemeni regions. It has been granted the right to rock-lobster fishing by the Council of Ministers. Although a state-owned enterprise, it also provides various fishing-related services to private investors. Ridhwan Al-Saqqaf, Chief of Yemen Times Aden Bureau, met the GECF General Manager, Mr. Ahmed Hizam and talked about the successes and problems encountered by this important public sector establishment. Excerpts:
Q: How are you prepared for the beginning of the rock lobster fishing season? A: The GECF has repaired and maintained its equipment such as the electric generators and the two fish refrigerators in its branches in Hadhramaut and Al-Mahara. We are also in the process of commissioning the fishermen who usually deal with the GECF. We hope to achieve a rock lobster catch of about 500 tons during the 1997-98 fishing season. We will also work on increasing the exported amount of rock lobster – live, cooked, and frozen, hoping to get the most favorable prices. The GECF’s sales of rock lobster, squid, and various kinds of fish as well as fishing boats had reached YR 387 million during 1996. Exports, during the same period and up to July, 1997, were in excess of YR 1.7 million.
Q: What kinds of rock lobster are found near our shores, and how are they caught? A: Rock lobsters of the best quality in the world are found near the Yemeni shores, especially near Hadhramaut and Al-Mahara. Yemen exports its rock lobster to the European and other markets at very competitive prices. We are given favorable trade privileges in Europe. It is essential that this marine creature be conserved. The are rules and regulations specifying the methods of fishing and the season.
Q: What sort of regulations? A: Well, catching rock lobsters with ordinary fishing nets is prohibited, as it may lead to catching the young and egg-carrying females of the species. Special cages must be used, within the appropriate fishing season.
Q: What sort of problems does the GECF face? A: As you may know, Yemen’s territorial waters are not fully guarded. Some neighboring countries fish within the Yemeni territorial waters. Also, some Yemeni fishermen fish out of the specified season or use nylon fishing nets, contrary to regulations. There is also the problem of smuggling the product through land and sea outlets.
Q: What has become of the President’s directive to compensate the fishermen who lost their boats during the war for unity? A: In accordance with the directives by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the GECF has just finished the manufacturing of 240 fiberglass boats to compensate the fishermen who lost their boats in 1994. The overall cost of manufacturing these boats was YR 63 million, provided by the government through the Agricultural Fund. The GECF fiberglass factory, which made these boats, is the largest of its kind in Yemen. It manufactures 9 different types of fishing boats with very competitive prices for the benefit of local fishermen.
Q: Any last comment? A: I’d like to seize this opportunity to call on all the relevant authorities to protect Yemen’s national wealth of rock lobster from haphazard fishing and other bad practices, whether by foreign or Yemen fishermen.