KUWAIT CITY, July 31: Head of the Kuwait Union of Fishermen Dhaher Al-Suwayyan says the fishing sector is facing an unprecedented crisis due to the shortage of fishermen as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and the closure of the country, reports Al-Qabas daily. In a press statement, he revealed that some of the fishermen were contracted from the neighboring countries, and others have reached the age of sixty due to which their residency cannot be renewed any more. Al-Suwayyan explained that the Kuwait fishing fleet is still in dire need of a significant number of fishermen despite the recent arrival of many from their countries who are awaiting their release from institutional quarantine.
According to this situation, it is expected that half of the Kuwaiti fishing fleet will stop its operations unless the competent authorities take the initiative to meet the union’s request to allow issuance of new work permits for the fishing sector to recruit new fishermen in order to fill this shortage and operate the rest of the fishing fleet to coincide with the beginning of the shrimp season. This severe shortage of labor may lead to shortage of fish supplies, and will thus affect the fish markets. Al-Suwayyan expressed his hope for the quick response of the concerned authorities and the approval of the Council of Ministers concerning the union’s letter for allowing issuance of new work permits for fishermen in order to solve the crisis so that the fleet works with its full potential to provide food security of marine products.
He revealed that the union was surprised by some concerned parties that did not review certain decisions that are in the public interest, solve many problems, and remove the challenges. Al-Suwayyan stressed the importance of developing the fishing sector. Regarding the fish auction and its return especially since the shrimp fishing season will start on August 1, he said, “The absence of the auction will open the door wide to a new type of black market.” Al-Suwayyan then asked, “Where will the fishermen go with their catches and shrimp baskets?” He stressed the need to organize auctions in Sharq and Fahaheel markets in accordance with the precautionary measures and health controls as well as under the supervision of the concerned authorities, because the return of fish and shrimp auctions in the fish markets in Sharq and Fahaheel will restore stability to the prices and allow citizens to obtain their need for fish and shrimp in the desired quantities.
Al-Suwayyan expressed his fear that fish stalls will continue to be closed in Sharq market due to the lack of fish, adding, “Today, the number of closed stalls reached 35, which is 30 percent of the fish stalls. This is worrisome, considering that this is the first time the stalls are devoid of fish. The solution is to bring back the fish auction and allow fishing for mead fish”. He renewed the union’s demand to the Ministry of Health to vaccinate the remaining fishermen, stall workers and others in preparation for the return of the fish auctions before the beginning of the shrimp fishing season. Al-Suwayyan affirmed that 80 percent of the fishermen and workers in the stalls and brokers’ offices have been vaccinated with two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. He expressed his hope that the crisis will end soon.