May 13 – Over the last few days, markets in Sharqiyah have witnessed an abundant supply of tuna fish leading to a sharp decline in prices, ranging from 300 baisas to 800 baisas per kilogram, at beach outlets. People flock to buy tuna in the wilayats of Sur and Jaalan Bani Bu Ali in bulks amid fishermen’s discontent.
Fishermen resent the low price as it does not help them meet their needs and they spend long hours in sea to get a good catch. However, prices at hypermarkets and malls remained the same or with a slight decrease, according to customers. “Yesterday I bought a kilo of tuna at RO 1.2 in one of the malls in Muscat. Earlier it was RO 1.3,” Al Mahrazi, a customer, said.
The low prices are attributed to the breeding season of ‘yellowfin tuna’ which has just started, at a time when the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) banned the export of kingfish, tuna, red-striped seabream and long-tail tuna during the period from June 1, 2018 until May 31, 2019, to ensure adequate supply of fish in the local markets.
“Prices of fish at markets are subject to the rules of supply and demand and therefore we, as a ministry, do not interfere in the prices that fishermen and fish companies see as suitable for them. We only act when the supply is low in the markets when we decide to ban export of certain kinds of fish that is not available in local markets,” said Dr Hamad al Awfi, Under-secretary of the Ministry, during his meeting with representatives of fish companies recently. In the past, local markets had witnessed stability in prices and availability of all kinds of fish due to cooperation between marketing companies and retail outlets. The Sultanate currently has 600 outlets to sell fish.
The ministry is also preparing to have a second wholesale market in Suhar, after Al Fulaiq market in Barka. Al Awfi has encouraged fish farmers to expand their value-added projects. He called upon companies to cooperate with the ministry to ensure adequate supply of fish at all the markets during Ramadhan as well as summer season, within the annual programme adopted by MoAF to address the shortage of artisanal fishing due to climate variability.
Zainab al Nassri