TEHRAN: Iran exported some 68,000 tons of seafood worth $228 million during the eight months to Nov. 21, registering a 26% and 41% increase in weight and value respectively compared with the corresponding peri
of last year, the director general of Seafood Quality Improvement, Processing and Market Promotion Department affiliated to Iran Fisheries Organization said.
“Close to 13,670 tons of this amount worth more than $62 million pertained to shrimp exports, which indicates a 161% and 160% growth in volume and value respectively year-on-year,” Isa Golshahi also told Financial Tribune.
The official noted that seafood exports in the last Iranian year (March 2016-17) amounted to 110,000 tons worth $412 million, showing a 34% and 18.5% growth compared with the previous year.
The main export destinations for Iranian seafood over the period included Oman, the UAE, Lebanon, Vietnam, Germany, Italy, France and Spain. “Seafood production in Iran annually accounts for only 1% of the country’s agricultural production, but constitutes close to 10% of the average value of agro exports. This reveals that the field has high capacities to earn revenues for the country, provided it is adequately supported by the government and the private sector alike.”
According to Golshahi, seafood imports mostly take place in two areas: First, for supplying the raw material demand of conserve production units, as they annually require between 40,000 and 45,000 tons of fish worth $90 million. Second, 15,000 to 17,000 tons of fish worth nearly $51 million are annually imported by processing industries that produce fillets, burgers, nuggets, etc. Hassan Salehi, the head of Iran Fisheries Organization, told Financial Tribune that the seafood industry has created close to 82,500 jobs in Iran.
“We officially started cage fish farming in Iran in 2007-08. This relatively new method has created around 2,200 jobs,” he said.
Salehi estimates that some 20,000 tons of fish will be produced through cage farming by the end of the current fiscal year (March 20, 2018) in the 530 cages installed in the country’s water bodies so far.
Hossein Ali Abdolhay, deputy for Aquaculture Development with Iran Fisheries Organization, said out of last year’s 1.09 million tons of seafood production, close to 10,000 tons were produced through cage farming to register a 300% hike compared with the previous year.
“Nearly 7,700 tons of this amount were farmed in cages installed in the Persian Gulf and Oman Sea in the south and Caspian Sea in the north. The rest were farmed in cages set up in lakes behind dams and other inland water bodies,” he said, adding that close to 5,000 tons of fish farmed in cages worth $25 million were exported last year.
Noting that production of cages for fish farming accounts for only 10% of production costs, Abdolhay said Iran is currently in the process of indigenizing the technology for making these cages.
Yet, he said Iran still lags behind in technical matters like design and installation of cages, noting that foreign companies do not easily transfer their know-how in these areas.