Iran exported seafood valued at more than $260 million during the nine months from March 21-Dec 21, 2018 indicating a growth of 28 percent compared to the figure for the same period of the year earlier, said the secretary general of Iran Fisheries Production and Trading Union.
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Ali Akbar Khodaei told Iran Daily, “Our output is estimated to rise to 1.2 million tons of which exports are expected to bring in $600 million by the end of the current (fiscal) year [March 20, 2019].”
He said that Iran exported seafood valued at almost $500 million during March 2017-18.
The official said Iran ships seafood to more than 44 countries, adding that the main export destinations for Iranian seafood are southeastern Asian countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand in addition to South Korea in east Asia.
Persian Gulf littoral states, Iraq, Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey and European Union member states are other destinations for Iranian seafood exports.
“More than 75 percent of Iranian seafood output is exported to southeastern Asian countries,” Khodaei said.
“Our exports to these countries are mainly shrimps as well as fish that are haram (forbidden) in Islam, including eels, squids, sharks and ribbonfish,” he added.
According to the official, “Exports of trout and sweat-water lobsters are other seafood products that are mainly exported to Europe.
“We also ship fish feed to Iraq and Azerbaijan.”
The official said Iran has the highest capacity in the region to produce canned tuna.
“Iran has the capacity to produce more than one billion tuna fish cans per year, but our output currently stands at 600 million cans,” Khodaei said.
“Iran has the biggest catch of tuna fish in the region from the Indian Ocean with an annual yield of 150,000 tons,” he said, adding that Iran also imports tuna fish to meet the domestic demands.
Commenting on the Chinese ships fishing in southern Iranian waters, Khodaei said “these ships operate under the management of Iranian companies”.
“In addition to Iranian personnel working in these ships, some of their catch also belongs to Iran,” he added.
He said the Chinese ships operating in Iranian waters have created more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs for Iranians.
“On average, 25 people work directly on each Chinese ship while 2,500 people are currently working for these ships directly and some 7,500 people work for them indirectly,” he added.
He said the Chinese ships are equipped with devices that enable them to catch fish that Iranian ships normally cannot, explaining that their activities have tapped into fish reserves not caught for many years, such as myctophidae that can be found at a depth of 200-400 meters.
He added that the fish caught by Chinese ships also meet the demands of powder fish companies.
The haram fish caught by these ships are packaged and exported as well, he added.
“In general, the presence of Chinese ships in southern Iranian waters can boost our economy, but their activities need to be according to regulations,” he concluded. ■