Yemen’s economic life after oil? Go fishing [Archives:2008/1193/Business & Economy]

September 25 2008

By: Amel Al-Ariqi
Many local and international reports indicate that fisheries are one of Yemen's potential sources of wealth after its oil supplies are depleted.

The World Bank (WB) said that fisheries could substantially increase export growth. According to WB reports, Yemen's most valuable fish marine commodities like rock lobster, cuttlefish, shrimp and other bottom-dwelling species, can potentially yield close to US $100 million worth of fish annually, of which nearly 50 percent could be exported.

Small and medium-sized fisheries would directly benefit from increasing fish exports, and this would in turn help increase employment and reduce poverty in coastal communities where many of the poorest Yemenis reside.

The fish sector could provide food security to citizens through expanding the scope of internal marketing, and draw up local consumption of fresh and canned fish to about 70 percent of the total volume of fish caught annually in the country, such as in 2004, when fish consumption per capita rose to 9 kg per year.

Fish farms could also increase protein consumption for Yemenis, notably among the poorer segments of the population that are seriously malnourished, according to the WB.

Yemen is endowed with an excellent geographical location which has made it a connecting point between the east and west throughout history. It is also a key entrance to the African continent via the Bab Al-Mandab Strait, considered to be one of the main maritime passages in the region, a 2,500 kilometer-long stretch of coastline along the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.

There are over 160 Yemeni islands featuring environmental diversity on the Yemeni coastline along the Arabian Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, and these have typically been abundant in fish resources throughout the year.

According to a report issued by the Ministry of Fishery Wealth in 2007, Yemen's large fish resources enable fishermen to catch around 400,000 tons of seafood per year. This quantity includes nearly 400 kinds of fish and other marine life, 150 of which are known as “economic fish”” or fish that are in high demand on the international market. Yemen's large stock of marine life dwarves other seafood-producing countries