INFORMATION ON FISHERIES MANAGEMENT IN THE STATE OF QATAR

October 2003

  

LOCATION OF THE MAIN LANDING PLACES

Qatar is a peninsula on the eastern side of the Arabian Gulf and, as such, is surrounded on three sides by the waters of the Arabian Gulf. There are only a small number of landing places in Qatar, which are situated near to regional marketing facilities. Fish are generally landed fresh and sold at these markets.

The main landing places, with the numbers of vessels and fishermen operating from them in 2001 are as follows:

Landing Place

No. Vessels

No. Fishermen

Doha

222

2035

Al- Khawr

176

1613

Al-Wakra

69

632

Al-Shamal

48

441

Total

515

4721

FISHERIES POLICIES AND PLANS

The main objective of Qatar’s fishery policy is to promote the sustainable productivity of local fish stocks in order to ensure a continuous fresh fish supply. Resolution of the maritime border issues with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in 2001 has enabled this objective to be pursued within well-defined maritime boundaries.

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 and to protect the marine environment.
  • 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.

MANAGEMENT MEASURES IN USE

Input controls are in place for the artisanal 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. There are no output controls on Qatar’s fisheries.

Shrimp fishing has been prohibited in Qatar since 1993 and assessments have been periodically undertaken to assess the shrimp stocks in Qatari waters and to monitor their recovery. However, it is likely that these shrimp stocks are shared with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain (where shrimp fishing is permitted) and therefore no sufficient recovery has been documented in Qatari waters to allow the re-opening of this fishery.

No new fishing vessel licenses have been issued since 1998 with the number fixed at 515. However, with no restrictions on boat replacement, larger vessels have been built to replace older smaller vessels. In 2001, 49% of all vessels were 50ft (16.4m) in length or more with the number of fishermen per vessel having risen from 6.3 in 1995 to 9.2 in 2001. As a result, employment in the fishing industry has risen significantly from 3 101 fishermen in 1995 to 4 721 in 2001. There are no restrictions on the quantity of fishing gear with the result that the number of fish traps (gargoor) used appears to have increased steadily since 1995. However, precise data are not available.

Because of the regional distribution of many of the key species taken by the commercial fishery in Qatar, independent management of the stocks of fish in Qatari waters is difficult. Regional co-operation in management is achieved through the Regional Commission for Fisheries, RECOFI.

There is a growing and presently uncontrolled recreational fishing sector that is in direct competition with commercial fishermen.

INVESTMENT IN FISHERIES

Within the artisanal sector, Qatari nationals individually own most vessels although the vast majority of crew are foreign workers.

There is no industrial fishery and no significant fish processing capabilities in Qatar.

PROJECTION OF SUPPLY AND DEMAND

Production from wild capture fisheries has increased substantially in recent years, rising from around 4 270 t in 1995 to 8 860 t in 2001. This increase in production (evidently a result of increasing fishing effort) has more than kept pace with increased demand as a result of increasing population and high per capita incomes.

Unlike neighboring countries, imports of fisheries products to Qatar have only risen slowly from 1227 t in 1995 to 1679 t in 2001. This is primarily a result of local increasing demand being met by increasing local production. With the prohibition on shrimp fishing in Qatar, a significant proportion of these imports (31% by weight in 2001) are shrimp imported from neighboring countries, particularly Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

However, as local production from wild capture fisheries reaches maximum levels, and without any significant aquaculture industry, the longer-term outlook for Qatar is for increasing levels of imports of fish and fish products.

MAIN FISHERIES REGULATIONS

Regulation of fisheries in Qatar is based on Law No.4 of 1983 for the use and conservation of marine resources. This was subsequently amended by Decree No. 17 of 1993. Various Ministerial Decisions and directives implement specific actions under this basic law, including the Ministerial decision to ban shrimp fishing in Qatari waters.

A number of other environmentally orientated Laws and Decrees related to marine protection impact on various fishing activities.

ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE NATIONAL FISHERIES AUTHORITY

The authority responsible for fisheries management in Qatar is the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture.

The structure of the Ministry is such that the Fisheries Department of the Ministry is responsible for fisheries affairs, including policy, licensing and collation and collection of statistics. The Fisheries Department does not undertake any fisheries research although specific studies have been commissioned in the past.