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The fish wealth in Iraq has witnessed a significant decline in recent years after its production was abundant, until its contribution to the state treasury reached about 25% of the GDP, according to previous data.
The scarcity of water and the subsequent increase in salinity, the absence of government support, overfishing, and the use of primitive fishing methods have led to a significant decline in fish production, until it is threatened with extinction.
The most prominent problems
Several types of fish are widespread in the waters of Iraq, most notably carp, carp, silver, flan, brown, carp, and others, and their prices range between $3.8 and $12.7 per kilogram.
Eating fish is one of the favorite meals of the Iraqis and at the top of their table lists, specifically the famous "masgouf" food, especially among the residents of the southern governorates.
Reports indicated that the Iraqi per capita share of locally produced fish meat declined, to range between 0.9 and 2.4 kilograms per year, with the increase in prices, while World Health Organization standards confirm the per capita need for fish meat of at least 6.5 kilograms annually.
The water crisis that Iraq has been suffering from for years directly affects fisheries, and this has threatened the reality of many fish lakes, including those located on the edges of rivers, as a result of which the Ministry of Water Resources stopped in 2021 granting licenses for lakes or floating ponds due to scarcity. watery.
The most prominent challenges
The data indicates that this year's production will decline to about 400,000 tons or less due to the lack of rain and viruses that infected fish, and this is supported by the Director General of the Livestock Department at the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Abbas Salem Hussein.
Iraq's fish production last year amounted to about 800,000 tons, of which 100,000 tons were from licensed farms, and 700,000 tons were from unlicensed farms, according to Hussein.
In his interview with Al-Jazeera Net, the Director General of the Animal Wealth Department in the Ministry of Agriculture lists the most prominent challenges and difficulties facing fish wealth in Mesopotamia as "water scarcity, disease infections and high feed prices, not only in Iraq but also in the world."
most affected areas
The threat of drought, water scarcity, and declining rains in the winter season is not limited to one region without another in Iraq. However, the marshes in the southern regions - which were previously considered one of the most productive areas for fish - are now the areas most affected by the decline in fish wealth in them.
According to reports, the marshes used to produce about 15,000 tons per month, and production decreased to between 1,000 and 3,000 tons.
Dr. Abbas Salem Hussein points out that the water receded from 5662 square kilometers to 550 square kilometers in the marshes, although the rains during the recent period somewhat restored life to them, but in a limited way.
He reveals the role of his department in reviving the marshes and their fisheries by releasing fish fingerlings (very small fish used for farming and reproduction) annually in the marshes through the department’s fish hatcheries, in addition to introducing modern techniques for raising fish in floating cages and the closed system for the purpose of rationalizing water use in light of its scarcity
What are the solutions?
In turn, the head of the National Association of Fish Producers in Iraq (a non-governmental organization), Iyad al-Talbi, presents a set of proposals to address the fisheries crisis in the country, the most important of which is resorting to using the waters of "subducts" and secondary rivers that start from the capital Baghdad (center) and end in Basra Governorate (south). Its total exceeds 800 km.
Al-Talbi describes it as a "temporary alternative", but he criticizes - in his interview with Al-Jazeera Net - the Ministry of Water Resources, which prevented fish breeders from using the waters of drains, secondary rivers and the third river after reducing water levels to less than 50%.
The speaker warns of the danger of the continued decline in annual fish production rates due to the accumulation of problems and their failure to solve them, after the domestic product was about one million tons before 2018.
Maintenance, attrition and fingerlings
Control over fisheries was very strict before 2003, especially with regard to catching during the breeding seasons, and this was considered by observers as one of the ways that contributed to increasing fish production.
However, after that year, censorship declined with the prevalence of overfishing and imports from neighboring countries and others, which prompted fishermen to leave the fishing profession, according to economic expert Diaa Al-Mohsen.
The economist estimates Iraq's losses from fisheries at about $400 million annually.
In his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, Al-Mohsen stressed the need to unite efforts between the Ministry of Agriculture, the Investment Authority and the agricultural colleges in Iraqi universities to extend the Tigris and Euphrates rivers with fingerlings for the purpose of reproduction.
He considered that this step will help preserve fish wealth and reduce the amount of economic depletion in it.
Views 29Added 01/15/2023 - 12:48 PMUpdated 01/15/2023 - 1:27 PM[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]