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Fisheries and marine resources

Annual fish catch per capita (kg): West Asia

West Asian fisheries have not kept pace with population growth, with the per capita catch falling slowly over 30 years

Note: fish catch includes marine and freshwater catches but excludes crustaceans and molluscs, and aquaculture production

Source: compiled from Fishstat 2001

The fisheries of West Asia are diverse and continue to provide protein and revenue. However, per capita fish catches have been falling (see graph), albeit slowly, because of adverse climatic and ecological conditions, and unsustainable fishing practices. The most visible signs of deterioration are the overexploitation and loss of shrimp nursery grounds. Furthermore, fish kill phenomena have often been observed along the shores of the Gulf Area and the Arabian Sea (ROPME 2000). Fishery regulations are lacking or not enforced, particularly in the Mashriq, and regional cooperation for improved fisheries management is weak. However, a range of policy measures, including the introduction of fishing licences, gear and area restrictions, closed seasons and the banning of certain fisheries, have recently been implemented in the GCC countries.

Initial steps have been taken in several countries to supplement fish protein by aquaculture and/or importation. As aquaculture is expected to increase in both the sub-regions, measures will need to be taken to prevent the accidental introduction of alien species into the wild, which could have adverse impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems.