Up to KD 15 per kilo for local catch compared to KD 12 for imported

KUWAIT: Local zubaidi returned this week to Kuwait's fish markets after an annual ban from June 1 to July 15 to allow the fish to reproduce during the 45-day period. But according to fishmongers, the local zubaidi supply is very limited, making the prices high compared to imported silver pomfret from Saudi Arabia and Iran. At the auction in the Sharq fish market, one basket of zubaidi is priced from KD 90 to KD 125. Price per kilo ranges from KD 9 to KD 15, depending on the type of local zubaidi. Meanwhile, imported zubaidi has a price tag of KD 6 to KD 12, a lot cheaper than during the ban period, where the price per kilo ranged from KD 15 to KD 20.

Meanwhile, prices of fish in the market are generally higher compared to last year, according to some fish vendors. "Most of the fishermen take a break or go on vacation to their home countries. So every summer, we see a scarcity of supply," a fishmonger told Kuwait Times. Fishermen in Kuwait are mostly Egyptians, Iranians, Bangladeshis, Indians and Pakistanis.

The Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR) announced the end of suspension of fishing for zubaidi, or silver pomfret, a delicacy for many locals and a mainstay of the Kuwaiti cuisine. "I love Kuwaiti zubaidi because the meat is whiter and tenderer compared to other fish. They are fresh because it's just a few miles away from our shores. The bones are also smoother and very safe to eat even by kids," said Abdullah, a Kuwaiti who bought a basket of zubaidi for KD 125. The weight of a basket ranges from 10 to 12 kg. "This is a nice type of zubaidi, so I don't really mind spending a bit of money for the family. Who doesn't love zubaidi? I love it, my wife loves it, and my kids love it too," he said.

According to officials at PAAAFR, fish caught in Kuwaiti waters account for a 20 percent share of the Kuwaiti market, with the remaining imported from neighboring countries. Almost 80 percent of fish sold in Kuwaiti markets is imported from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Zubaidi, hamour, nuaibi and maid are some of the variety of fish popular in Kuwait. Iranian and Pakistani zubaidi is sold at the same price, while shrimp, which is mostly imported from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, is sold for KD 3 to KD 5 per kilogram depending on the size. But during the shrimping season, the price falls by 500 fils per kilogram.

By Ben Garcia