Fish restaurants back in business
Fish restaurants in Jeddah are now doing business in earnest after a long lull throughout the month of Ramadan and Eid.
More and more customers are returning to these restaurants despite complaints about exorbitant fish prices during the holiday season, which have increased by more than 50 percent, several consumers told Arab News.
“The price of the hammour and najil varieties range between SR90 and SR180 per kilo nowadays,” one customer said.
They attributed such high prices to lack of sufficient price monitoring and inspections.
Mohammed Al-Halal, a customer, said fish restaurants in Jeddah and rest stops on the highway to Madinah raised prices unreasonably during the holiday period.
The price of najil reached SR150 and then spiked at SR180, while groupers cost SR120 a kilo and the ‘shaour’ variety SR80 to SR90 a kilo, he said.
“The price of shellfish, such as shrimp and crab, squid, and lobster, also increased tremendously, he said, with prices double those prevailing before Ramadan and Eid.
Abdullah Shamaa, the head of a fishermen’s group at Jeddah’s central fish market, told Arab News that high prices are seasonal but that the prices would stabilize by the end of the month.
“Price hikes are common every year, increasing by anywhere between 40 and 60 percent across the board,” said Shamaa.
“Several factors account for this increase, including lack of supply at the end of Ramadan due to the fact that many fishermen don’t go out to sea during the fasting month. The fish market displays between 90 and 160 tons of fish daily, 30 percent of which is local produce. Traders try and compensate for the lack of demand in Ramadan by increasing prices.”
“In addition, the country’s fishermen lack support. They often live in squalid conditions and lack even the most basic requirements, prompting many to leave the profession,” he said.
Najil fish now comes from other Red Sea countries, such as Egypt and Sudan to Saudi Arabia, said Shamaa. “Our fishermen need incentives to be able to continue catching and selling local produce.”