With a GDP of US$ 212 billion, and a population of 2.27 million people, Qatar’s economy reflects a high reliance on oil and gas exports. This proportion was brought just under half of Qatar’s nominal GDP since 2000, but oil & gas continue to account for 92% of the Qatari government’s revenue. While diversification by way of infrastructure, construction, financial services manufacturing, etc., in combination with Qatar’s successful bid for the World Cup 2022, has worked well, the country is yet to turn its attention to its fisheries and aquaculture sector.
The market for fisheries and aquaculture in Qatar was value at US$ X million, and is expected to increase at CAGR X% over 2016-2022. The fisheries and aquaculture sector in Qatar is in its infancy. This is evident by the mass consumption of chicken and red meat by a large proportion of the country’s population, and the inappropriately small scale usage of the country’s coasts. The reasons for this is the generational shift away from seafaring ways of populations now being drawn to wealth available in other sectors, particularly oil and gas. This in turn, is perpetuated by an insufficient focus on capture or aquaculture fisheries by the Qatari government. Furthermore, there is an absence of a frozen supply chain from the port to the supermarkets in Qatar, while such a chain exists for other meat. The fishing infrastructure is severly outdated in the country. In areas like Doha, Wakra and Al Khor, the total number of boats, 50% of which are less than 40 feet in length has remained constant at 515 in the past 17 years. Another constraint includes a fee of up to US$ 137,331 to acquire a single fishing license. Desalination leads to an increase in salinity of water where fish naturally occur, further hampering the stocks in Qatari waters.
Should fisheries be taken up as an initiative by the government, it would attract numbers beyond subsistence level artisanal fishermen. This is because of an increase in population, affluence, and westernization. Increase in western population and concepts of healthy living further encourage the rationale for a domestic production of protein rich fish.
Currently, there are some small-scale Tilapia cultures being undertaken. In addition, larval production of green tiger prawns and yellowfin seabream are being utilized to enhance overly fished marine stocks. In terms of aquaculture enhancement, the government is leading an aquaculture research institute at Ras Matbekh in Al Khor. New measures of integrating aquaculture to reflect popular global demand will involve rearing of shrimp and sea bass harvests.
Qatar’s per capita consumption of fish is low in comparison to that by its peers UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman, at X kg per capita annually. A large majority of imported fish is consumed through supermarkets, increasing in number. However, the majority of all fish finds its way to Qatari plates through traditional fish markets. Between 7-8 kgs of fresh fish and seafood (15% of this is imported) is consumed by each person per annum.
A majority of the fish is imported in the country through private enterprises: the country imports approximately 18,000 tons of fish from 22 countries, including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Vietnam, Thailand, and others. Companies looking to set up fishing and aquaculture enterprises in the country must do so through the Ministry of Environment in Qatar. Important names in the Qatar fishing industry include Qatar National Fishing Company, and a large number of small scale enterprises.
KEY DELIVERABLES IN THE STUDY