The main goal of the previous government toward developing fisheries was
to improve the nutrition standard of the population. This goal involves
development and management of the various resources of marine, inland
fisheries and aquaculture. The change of Government in Iraq in 2003 has
resulted in a hiatus in fisheries management strategies and objectives
and it may be some time before these strategies and objectives are clarified.
In the meantime, there have been major environmental changes to Iraq's
coastal habitat as a result of (a) a long term trend of damming of the
Tigris and Euphrates rivers, with a consequent reduction in the downstream
flows and (b) the draining of the extensive marshes in southern Iraq by
diversion of major rivers around the marsh areas. These marshes, which
have been reduced in extent by over 90% to an area of around 1,700 Km2,
supported significant fisheries in the past (up to 60% of landings) as
well as providing a nursery area for some commercial species that are
captured in the Gulf.
The impact of these major changes has been a dramatic decline in marine
fish landings (probably more than 50%) as well as inland fisheries from
the area although these changes are yet to be reflected in national statistics.
Consequently, addressing these major environmental issues (including the
rehabilitation of the marsh areas) will very likely be a major strategy
for the improvement of fisheries resources and the fishing industry in
Management objectives for capture fisheries (both inland and marine) in
Iraq are unclear at the time of writing because of the transitional nature
of the present Government. As noted above, a major objective is likely
to be the rehabilitation of the marshes of southern Iraq, which will have
beneficial impacts on both the freshwater and marine commercial fish stocks
of the immediate area and the northern Gulf. The management objectives
of the previous Government were orientated towards the development of
aquaculture and were:
private sector activities in field of marine fisheries (catch) and
encouraging investment in marine aquaculture;
of fish culture in earth ponds by exploiting the entire existing pond
area of farms of about 7500 Hectares. It is estimated that only 25%
of this area is exploited in 2003. With the lifting of economic sanctions
on Iraq, the availability of equipment and materials for re-habilitation
of these farm ponds should improve;
fish culture technologies such as floating cages to exploit inland
water bodies (lakes and reservoirs) is the best technology for this
fish culture in high salinity lakes of high salinity such as Razzaza
lake by introducing suitable species of fish;
of fish seed of common carp, grass crap and silver carp in quantities
required to cover the needs of fish farms when utilized by full potentials
using polyculture techniques;
of Iraqi indigenous fishes (Cyprinidae) such as Bunni, Shabbot and
Gattan by artificial reproduction for restocking purpose.
MEASURES IN USE
no. 48 for 1976 regulates the whole activities of fisheries. The Ministry
of Agriculture issues regulations under this Law, according to the need.
The following management measures have been implemented by law and regulations:
of licenses for fishing or aquaculture is unrestricted and, after
fulfilling minor conditions, the number of licenses on issue for inland
water fisheries in 2001 was 15960. In addition, approximately 1,210
licenses were on issue for marine fisheries and 1893 licenses for
seasons have been implemented for inland fishing in various areas
of Iraq. These periods are as follows:
1. In Southern areas: February 15 to May 1;
2. In Central areas: March 1 to May 15;
3. In Northern areas: April 1 to June 15;
size regulations are in place for inland fisheries and for marine
gill net fisheries. For both inland and marine waters, the minimum
mesh size was 50 mm stretched mesh.
of regulations is weak, particularly after the change of Government in
Iraq in 2003. In addition, fishing infrastructure within both the industry
(vessels, nets, equipment, transport vehicles etc) and Government regulatory
authorities (personnel, equipment etc) has deteriorated significantly
during a period of economic sanctions imposed on Iraq. As a result, although
simple management and administrative systems are in place, they are widely
ignored and are seldom able to be implemented or enforced. Local communities
have often adopted management arrangements that suit their particular
OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS
previous Government in Iraq subsidized the fishing and aquaculture industries
through State-funded initiatives such as supplying fingerlings for aquaculture
production, providing and repairing boat engines and net material and
supplying limited operational supplies such as fish feed.
In addition, the public sector (through the General Authority for Animal
Resources Development, Fisheries Department) was responsible for fisheries
and aquaculture development and management policy and worked through their
various offices in each Governorate.
Catches, production and marketing of fisheries products are exclusively
done by the private sector.
The private sector (companies and individuals, and often through co-operatives)
also owns the vessels for inland and marine fisheries. Fish farms are
owned by private sector as well.
Fish are freely traded with prices being set according to the condition
of the local markets. No foreign trade in fish are has occurred since
1991 as a result of economic sanctions and per capita supply is low and
has been declining.
STRUCTURE OF NATIONAL FISHERIES AUTHORITY
the previous Government, the principal responsibility for fisheries lay
with the Ministry of Agriculture, through the General Authority for Animal
Resources Development, Fisheries Department. This general Authority was
established in 1989. Before that the General Authority for Fish Resources
Development was responsible for this activity.
In the 18 provinces of Iraq there are sections (divisions) for fish resources
that are part of the Ministry of Agriculture and these operate through
the local agriculture authority in each province.
Since the change in Government in Iraq in 2003, it is not yet clear whether
these arrangements will be maintained or whether new arrangements for
a national fisheries authority will be implemented.