As part of an ambitious plan to ensure food security, the Kingdom has intensified efforts to modernize its fishery sector with an aim to promote the sustainable productivity of local fish stocks.
The plan includes the protection of the huge marine environment and review of the Kingdon’s fishery sector on a priority basis besides collaborating with international organizations like the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“The overall objectives of the Saudi government for the fisheries sectors are to produce fresh fish for local markets as part of its national food security policy,” said a report released by the Ministry of Agriculture. The plan focuses on the efforts to improve the economic performance of different fishery sectors through better utilization of the marine environment, said the report, while giving an overview of the fishery industry of the Kingdom.
Referring to the growing cooperation between the Kingdom and the international organizations, especially with the FAO, the report said Riyadh had made a contribution of $ 66 million to the FAO to implement its technical assistance projects in the country, which aim to benefit small-scale agricultural producers and fishermen.
“The projects are part of a five-year (2012-2016) cooperation program, which was signed by the Kingdom and FAO last month,” it added.
The FAO, as part of the program, will provide technical assistance and expertise for 17 specific initiatives. These initiatives will cover several areas such as the transfer of technology, sustainable management of natural resources, sustainable crop production, management of animal and fisheries resources and strengthening of rural institutions with special attention to the fishery sector of the Kingdom.
“The program eventually aims to benefit small-scale agricultural producers, who will be able to increase and diversify food production,” said an official of the local UN agency here.
He said the fisheries sector plays a significant role in national, regional and global food security providing a valuable dietary source of protein, minerals, micronutrients and essential fatty acids. In addition, the sector contributes to economic activity, employment and in generating foreign exchange.
He pointed out that the world’s per capita fish consumption is estimated at about 17.1 kg, with fish providing about 3 billion people with 15 percent of their average per capita intake of animal protein. Fish is widely traded, with about 38 percent of production entering international trade as various food and feed products.
Trade of fish and fishery products has significantly increased in the last decades. Developed countries absorb about 80 percent of world fishery imports in value.
Developing countries play a crucial role in fishery exports with a share of about 50 percent by value and 60 percent by quantity (live weight equivalent) of the total, said an FAO report made available to Arab News. The fishery net exports of developing countries have shown a continuing rising trend in the last few decades. At present, about 80 percent of total fishery production is used for direct human consumption globally, said the FAO report.
The remaining 20 percent, entirely from capture fisheries, is destined for non-food products, mainly for production of fishmeal and fish oil, as well as direct feed in aquaculture and livestock. Fish is a common food item in Saudi Arabia and most of the Middle East countries, where fish-based cuisines are commonly available.

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