Up to 40,000kg of shrimp will be caught today (July 15) as Bahrain lifts a seasonal ban on trawling.
A total of 100 boats were allowed go out to sea early this morning as coolers filled with the popular crustacean, which is considered a local delicacy, were found in local central markets, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Another 274 dhows will be authorised to shrimp in the evening.
It comes after His Royal Highness Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa shelved a new proposal to extend the shrimping ban from four months to six months.
However, the new ban, from March 15 to September 15, will come into effect next year and is intended to allow shrimp stocks to replenish.
“We have 100 speedboats and 274 dhows that will resume work after the end of the ban, while others are just waiting to finalise procedures,” said Fishermen Protection Society president Jassim Al Jeran.
“We are expecting 40 tonnes to be available in the market throughout the day with the least expected being around 30 tonnes, depending on when permits would be given out.
“The start of the shrimping season is a blow to violators who have made thousands of dinars by going out to sea during the mating period when there was decreased monitoring at the sea by coastguards and at local markets by inspectors.
“Even those caught are just punished with BD300 and the confiscation of equipment, while their daily profits are around BD1,000 ($2,634).”
Al Jeran urged legislators to introduce stricter punishments for fishermen caught flouting the ban.
“Fishermen abiding by the rules pay more, they have to endure more and get fewer profits, but at least they are making their income honestly and without breaching the law,” he added.
He welcomed the decision to delay the implementation of the extended ban, but said a permanent solution was needed.
“Shrimp trawlers are without work for four months, and even if they are given fishing licences then others specialised in that field will complain about low stocks,” he said.
“So we will end up creating a problem that will see fish prices drop with several being pushed out of the business.
“We will sit with the ministry after the Eid holidays and outline solutions to present to the Cabinet, considering that a six-month ban will be enforced next year.”
This year, large shrimp will cost around BD2.5 per kilo while the smaller ones will be sold at around BD1.5 per kilo.
“Violators have been selling shrimp for BD3.5 per kilo during the ban period regardless of the type, but it will drop to reasonable rates with the lift of the ban,” explained Al Jeran.
Meanwhile, he said prices of fish have gone up due to the hot weather.
“Extreme hot weathers are like extreme cold, and prices during early Ramadan were cheaper than they are now,” he said.
“Prices are reasonable, but with cooler weathers, we hope they would be stabilised.”
The extended ban came amid fears that Bahrain’s fish stocks could be wiped out within three years unless urgent action was taken.
In March, fishermen from around the country gathered outside the society’s office in Muharraq to protest against the extension