Challenges Faced by Fish Mongers at Souk Sharq Market

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The fishing profession has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, with a combination of factors contributing to its decline. Stringent regulations on fishermen, the forced relocation of many without repatriation, and the rise of the online fish trade have all played a role in signaling the potential end of the fish market era. This sentiment is shared by numerous observers, sellers, and specialists in the field.

According to a source cited by Al-Anba, many stall vendors have been forced to give up their rented stalls due to a variety of challenges. These challenges include unmet operational expenses, labor shortages, the scarcity of local fish, and the overwhelming influx of imported fish flooding the local market. It is reported that hundreds of containers arrive each month, filled with imported fish.

Abu Rudaina, a seller at the fish market in the Sharq region, confirms that local fish is becoming increasingly scarce, and market demand is notably weak, especially during extended vacations when customers are fewer in number. This decline in local fish availability can be attributed to a combination of factors, including stringent regulations on fishermen and the reduction of diesel subsidies, which have resulted in a diminished local catch this season.

Ala’a Khawaja, a concerned fisherman, has voiced his fears about the imminent threat of extinction facing the fishing profession. He believes that the stringent regulations on fishermen and the reduction of diesel subsidies have had a detrimental impact on their livelihoods. Additionally, the influx of imported fish, with around 40 containers arriving from various countries, has further worsened the situation for local fishermen. Khawaja also highlights the recent decision to conclude the shrimp fishing season on January 1, which has adversely affected fishermen who traditionally rely on an additional month of fishing to offset their losses.

In light of these challenges, Khawaja expresses hope for a reversal of the decision and an extension of the fishing season by a month. He appeals to the relevant authorities to consider extending the fishing season until at least February when the Nuwaibi season begins. This extension would provide some relief to the struggling fishing community and help mitigate the impact of the influx of imported fish.

It is important to note that the fish market currently heavily relies on imports from countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Norway. In contrast, the availability of local fish is nearly stagnant and faces the threat of unavailability in upcoming seasons due to fishermen’s reluctance to continue their profession under the current circumstances.

As for the current fish prices, they vary depending on the type of fish and its origin. Due to the scarcity of local fish, the prices of imported fish have seen an increase. Customers should be aware that the market dynamics are constantly changing, and it is advisable to check with local vendors for the most up-to-date prices.

In conclusion, the fish market is facing significant challenges that threaten its very existence. The combination of stringent regulations, the influx of imported fish, and the scarcity of local catch has created a difficult environment for fishermen and sellers alike. It is crucial for the relevant authorities to address these concerns and consider measures that will support the fishing profession and ensure the sustainability of the fish market for future generations.

Source: TimesKuwait

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