World companies to invest in Yemen’s fish wealth [Archives:2006/913/Business & Economy]

January 19 2006

Yemeni officials announced that a number of Japanese, German, Australian, Turkish and Arab companies have applied to invest in Yemen's fish sector. Sources said most applications are decided and some are in the decision process before beginning investment procedures, whereas others require ecological studies.

Minister of Fish Wealth Dr. Ali Mohammed Mijwis explained that a Japanese company intends an investment project to fatten tunas by establishing fish cultures. It aims to catch small tunas and put them in basins fed with special nutrition to increase their normal weight from six kilos to 20 kilos. He pointed out that the fattening project is among Japan's successful projects and that Yemen should strive for such a project. He also said the Japanese company would deliver a full study to specialists to assess the project's ecological influence, as well as its economic impact.

The minister noted that a German company intends to build a fish culture factory in Hadramout governorate, the first of its kind in the region, exporting to both Europe and Asia. The planned factory will specialize in shrimp reproduction and breeding other small, marine life species at an annual production capacity of 500 tons.

The ministry also is coordinating with an Egyptian oceanography center to study a site stretching across Yemeni coasts to the sea as to soil and fresh water suitability. Mijwis said a preliminary study is complete, revealing more than 36 sites ideal for shrimp reproduction. He also pointed out that both the Yemeni and Egyptian sides would work to develop the study and include it in an investment map of all coastal fish projects.

Such studies aim to define suitable sites where investors can locate their projects, whether building boat, ice, canning or other relevant factories. In this regard, the World Bank announced it would grant Yemen $25 million to improve fish wealth management, allowing a 10-month grace period.

The ministry intends to implement the improvement project between 2006 and 2010 in all governorates situated on the Red Sea coast and the Gulf of Aden. The project also is meant to improve fisherman support by improving wharfs and facilities unloading and selling fish. The project is considered one of the most important of the forthcoming period in developing the fish sector. Implementation will coincide with completion of a sea monitoring and inspection project begun in 2003.

For its part, the World Trade Organization announced last month that it would support Yemen's fish export project with a $400,000 grant.