(MENAFN - Arab News) The Saudi Agricultural Development Fund (SADF) is leading an initiative with other government and private establishments aimed at attaining self-sufficiency in the production of fish to satisfy local needs and export the surplus during the coming decade, business daily Al-Eqtisadiah reported yesterday quoting an informed source.
He said under the initiative, the Red Sea, which is very rich in fish, would be used extensively for the production of fish for both local consumption and export.
Undersecretary of the Ministry of Agriculture for fish wealth Jaber Al-Shihri said the ministry was planning to give more licenses for giant fish cultivation projects on the Red Sea so as to be able to cope up with the growing demand.
He said the present local production was only satisfying about 40 percent of the local needs while the other 60 percent were covered by fish imports from various countries.
"The ministry plans to issue licenses to all interested Saudis to practice fishing and to establish fish cultivation projects on the Red Sea shores," he said. Al-Shihri advised Saudi fishermen to practice the profession themselves and not depend on foreign manpower. He, however, added that visas for foreign fishermen would continue to be granted.
He said the ministry was encouraging Saudis to become fishermen through soft loans from the SADF to purchase boats and other fishing tools. He said more than 20,000 fishermen were able to sell their catch at high prices due to a great demand for fish in the local markets.
Al-Shihri said the initiative of the SADF was aimed at enabling the Kingdom to attain self-sufficiency in the production of fish during the coming 10 years by granting easy loans to citizens to fish and to establish fish farms along the extended shores of the Red Sea.
As demand for shrimps was not as high as that for fish in the local market, large quantities of it were being exported, he said.