October 2003


Kuwait has three main fishing fleets; the industrial shrimp fishing fleet, the artisanal dhow fleet and the small speedboat fleet. The industrial shrimp fleet is located at Ash Shu'aybah and at Doha Port and all shrimp landings from this fleet are made there. The artisanal dhow and speedboat fleet land their catch at a number of locations, including Failaka Island. All fishing boats have easy access to ports at all times except Al-Kherafi landing place, which can only be used during high tide. The number and types of boats based at these landing places usually vary with the season. Fig. 1 shows the locations of the ports and landing places. The main landing places are:

(a) Sief Harbor (Al-Sharq) (29° 23'04"N, 47° 58'42"E)
This harbor was established in 1997, and associated with the new fish market at the Sief. All kind of artisanal fishing boats can land their catches at Sief Harbor. The artisanal dhow shrimp fleet, finfish dhow fleet and about 30 speedboats catching maid (small mullet) are based at this harbor. The maximum capacity of the harbor is 70 to 100 dhow boats.

(b) Al-Kherafi landing place (29° 22'21"N, 47° 57'51"E)
This harbor is 280-m long and 110-m wide (approximately 30,800 m2). Dhow boats fishing gargoor traps and speedboats using gill net to capture maid (small mullet) use al-Kherafi. It also has a hull repair place for dhow boats. The landed catches are transported to the Sief or other main fish markets.

(c) Doha Harbor (Ashairech) (29° 22'12"N, 47° 50'24"E)
Located about 32-km northwest of Kuwait City, Doha Harbor is used extensively by about 375 drift gillnet speedboats. Zobaidy, suboor, and recently crabs are the primary species landed.

(d) Doha Port (29° 22'48"N, 47° 48'00"E)
The National Fishing Company industrial boats are based in this port. It also serves as a landing site for fish imports, mainly by fishing boats from Iran.

(e) Fahaheel landing place (29° 04'48"N, 48° 08'30"E)
Located approximately 24 km south of Kuwait City, this landing place is utilized by about 50 gargoor and about 120 drift gill net speedboats (170 total). During shrimp season, about 20 dhow shrimp trawlers land their catches at this harbor.

(f) Shuaiba Port (29° 02"18"N, 48° 09'36"E)
The port is located approximately 32 km south of Kuwait City. The port is only utilized by the 20 United Fisheries of Kuwait Company industrial trawlers. All shrimp catches taken by this fleet are landed for processing by the UFK plant also at this port.

All imported catches by boats are landed at Doha port. Local catches are landed at four main harbors: about 60% are landed at Sief and Al-Kherafi harbors, 20% of Doha, and 10% of Fahaheel harbor. Just over 50% (1,200 t) of Kuwait's shrimp harvest is landed by artisanal vessels at Sief harbor, and a little less than 50% (1 000 t) is landed at the industrial boat harbors of Shuaiba and Doha.


The main objective of Kuwait's fishery policy is to promote the sustainable productivity of local fish stocks in order to ensure a continuous fresh fish supply. Another objective is to satisfy national demand by minimizing the difference between the local fishery production and total fish consumption.

Overall strategies

The overall development objectives of the government for the fisheries sectors are:

  • To produce fresh fish for local markets as part of national food security policy;
  • To develop sustainable and responsible fisheries management through stock conservation measures;
  • To improve the economic performance of different fishery sectors through better utilization of the marine environment;
  • To subsidize local fish production supplied from both capture fisheries and aquaculture;
  • To encourage and increase fish supply from aquaculture in order to reduce fishing pressure on local stocks.

Specific objectives

The specific objectives for the capture fisheries are:

  • To support scientific research to establish measures for sustainable use of the fishery stocks;
  • To encourage consumption of under-utilized fish species;
  • To develop gear technologies and methodologies to reduce shrimp by-catch and/or increase fish catches, as well as to minimize gear damage to the marine ecosystem.

The objectives for aquaculture are:

  • To support research for development of aquaculture methodologies such as mass hatchery techniques, sea cage culture and integrated systems of tilapia with agricultural production;
  • To establish a fish hatchery and a fish food production factory to supply fish farms;
  • To provide financial aid and fish feed for the aquaculture sector to enhance its development.


The subsidization of local fisheries remains an important part of Government management measures. As part of this direct subsidization program, the Government's response to declining level of fish catch has been to increase the level of direct subsidies to the industry in an effort to retain domestic prices at affordable levels and to support the profitability of the operators.

Most other management measures in place are based on recommendations by the Mariculture and Fisheries Department of the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR). Input controls are in place for the industrial shrimp fishery where the number of vessels is limited, while mesh size regulations, size limits and closed areas and seasons are imposed on the artisanal sector. In particular, the important area of Kuwait Bay is closed to trawling. However, enforcement of these regulations is weak and illegal fishing is common. There are no controls on outputs and no fishery is managed under a quota or ITQ system.

Legislation and related Regulations are introduced, enforced, and regulated by the Fisheries Department of the Public Authority for Agriculture and Fisheries (PAAF). PAAF has an enforcement office to control and enforce the management measures.

The Central Statistical Office (CSO) of the Ministry of Planning collects catch statistics from wholesales sections and retail shops in fish markets. All local and imported quantities of fish and shrimp auctioned in fish markets are documented with special forms provided by the CSO.

More detailed catch and effort data for selected fisheries is gathered by KISR. In addition, statistical and biological data are collected and analyzed by the fisheries research program in KISR, and management recommendations are formulated through annual fisheries management workshops.

The management measures for the shrimp fishery is well developed and implemented for optimal sustainable production. These measures are:

  • Closed fishing season starts in February or March depending on the catch rates during January. While the season has opened on 1st September for many years, industry pressure because of declining catches resulted in the season being opened on August 1 in 2002;
  • Closed areas to protect spawning as well as recruitment of both shrimp and finfish; these areas are Kuwait Bay and the three mile zone from the coast;
  • Effort limitation; entry to the fishery is limited by 35 industrial boats and 28 artisanal dhow boats;
  • The minimum mesh size of shrimp trawl net is 45 mm stretched.

The management for finfish fishery is less developed. In addition to closed areas, the management measures include the following:

  • Minimum marketable sizes for commercially important species;
  • Minimum mesh size of drift gillnets according to the targeted species.

Aquaculture Management

Aquaculture management of the industry is under the PAAF authorization. Presently the aquaculture activities include one company for marine species, and tilapia culture integrated with private agricultural farms. PAAF subsidizes the aquaculture industry only for fish food.


The investment in fisheries is totally controlled by the private sector. The three companies are owned by public shareholders. The artisanal fleet is owned by Kuwaiti citizens who invested in capital (boats and gear), while the fishermen and the boat owners share the profits.


A 20-year fisheries strategic plan was prepared in 1988 and forecast supply and demand over this period. This 1988 strategic plan forecast that demand would outstrip supply and that imports would rise and shrimp exports would decrease in the absence of significant aquaculture development in the country. The aquaculture sector has not developed significantly in Kuwait while fish landings have actually fallen. As a result, those 1988 forecasts of rapidly increasing imports to meet local demand have occurred with 75% of 2002 fish supply of 23 300 t being imported. Given the lack of aquaculture development and the declining catches from wild stocks, it is likely that imports will continue to rise and supply an increasing proportion of local fish demand.


The basic fisheries legislation contains several decrees and laws on conservation of the fisheries resources. The following decrees regulate the utilization of the marine fish resources in Kuwait's waters:

  • Decree promulgating law No. 46 of 1980 on protecting of fisheries resources. This is the basic fisheries law and includes regulations relating to (a) The right of fishing and exploitation of marine resources shall be determined by a decree. (b) no foreign vessels shall fish without a license by the competent minister. (c) the fishing vessels shall be owned by a citizen of Kuwait. (d) license should be issued to fishermen operating licensed fishing boats. and (e) gears used in fishing, and with cooperation of other departments to enforce regulations and law;
  • Decree No. 17 of 1980 on licenses for Kuwaiti fishing vessels;
  • Decree No. 18 of 1980 on licenses for Kuwaiti fishing vessels' crew;
  • Decree No. 19 of 1980 on foreign fishing vessels;
  • Decree No. 20 of 1980 on licenses for intertidal stake nets (hadrahs);
  • Decree No. 21 of 1980 on new fishing techniques and the farming of fish and living aquatic organisms;
  • Decree No. 22 of 1980 on prohibition of specific materials in Kuwaiti territorial waters;
  • Decree No. 23 of 1980 on minimum mesh sizes of shrimp fishing nets;
  • Decree No. 24 of 1980 to authorize certain officials of the ministry of Public Works to enforce law No. 46 of 1980;
  • Decree No.7 of 1983 on the minimum measurement of mesh sizes to be used in fishing vessels;
  • Decree No.8 of 1983 on the minimum fish sizes to be caught in the territorial waters of Kuwait and to be marketed in Kuwait;
  • Decree No.11 of 1983 of prohibition on fishing within 3 miles from the coasts of Kuwait;
  • Decree No.13 of 1983 on prohibition of fishing in certain areas in territorial waters of Kuwait;
  • Agreement between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the State of Kuwait concerning the submerged area adjacent to the divided zone, 2 July 2000.


The fisheries management in Kuwait is under the responsibility of the Public Authority for Agriculture and Fisheries (PAAF). The main task of the Fisheries Department of the PAAF is boat licensing and registration of fishing boats, regulation enforcement, aquaculture management, and export licensing for marine products.
The following provides the organizational structure of PAAF: