Fishing licences are up for grabs on the black market and the going price for one is a huge QR300,000 ($82,000) as the government stopped issuing new fishing licences some 14 years ago.
One of the main reasons why fish prices keep going up is that no fresh licence has been issued for the past 14 years and fishermen’s repeated calls for forming an association that would control pricing have fallen on deaf ears, local Arabic daily Al Raya reported yesterday.
“Because of the government policy, people are forced to rely on the black market and buy licences from those who have old ones but aren’t in the fishing business any more,” said Yusuf Al Mannai, a fisherman.
He said that some 10 years ago, he and other fishermen tried to form a business association with the purpose of controlling wholesale as well as retail pricing of fish but in vain.
The government didn’t respond and the situation today is that the wholesalers and retailers are both taking consumers for a ride. Citing an example, Al Mannai said that outlets access a kilogram of hamur fish for between QR18 and QR20, but they sell the stocks at double the rate.
“If we have an association we would not let the prices go haywire and stop the exploitation of the hapless consumer by fixing wholesale and retail prices,” said Al Mannai.
According to him, another problem facing the Qatari fishing industry is that nets and other fishing equipment are brought from UAE at double the prices.
“And then transportation costs add to our overheads.” This indirectly hits the end user as he pays for the added costs.
The fishing industry gets no subsidy from the government nor is even diesel made available to fishing vessels at subsidised rates.
No effort has so far been made to set up industries that would manufacture fishing equipment locally, said Al Mannai.
Another fisherman, Ahmed Salem Al Haamli, echoing similar woes, said he was afraid that due to a lack of government support to the fishing industry, their younger generations were not keen on remaining in the business. “This is our heritage but I am afraid our sons and grandsons might leave fishing and take to other occupations for a livelihood,” said Al Haamli.