Marine Life in Kuwait with a Focus on Fisheries

Kuwait’s Marine Environment with a focus on Fisheries

The orange-spotted grouper (Epinephelus coioides), locally known as hamoor, ranks with the silver pomfret as Kuwait’s most desirable fish.  Pictured below is a gargoor (hemispherical trap) with six hamoor; catches such as this are rare now because of overfishing.  An airbladder is seen protruding from one hamoor’s mouth indicating that the water where this trap was set was most likely deeper than 20 m.  In 1989 and 1992, Kuwait landed over 500 t of hamour, but landings in 2013 were just over 200 t.  Hamoor are protogynous in that they change sex as they age, with older larger individuals being males.  Hamoor grow to 1.2 m in length, but specimens over 2 m in length have been captured in Saudi Arabia’s Jubail area.  
Kuwait’s other No. 1 fish is the Silver Pomfret (Pampus argeteus), locally known as zubaidy, which roughly translates to little butter.  Although widespread in the Indo-pacific region, pomfret is a coastal species associated with river mouths.  Thus in the Arabian Gulf, this species is restricted to the extreme northern part and the stock is shared with Iraq and Iran.  The next population is near Qeshm Island, near the Strait of Harmouz, and in Pakistan at the mouth of the Indus River.  In the mid 1990s, Kuwait landed over 1,000 t of zubaidy annually, but this volume has dropped 80 to 90 % with only 100 to 200 t being landed at present.  The drop is due to overfishing and the decreased flow of the Shatt Al-Arab.  The primary means of capturing zubaidy is by gill net (below), but they are also captured by shrimp trawl and intertidal stake traps (hadrah) on Failaka Island.

Kuwait’s commercial fisheries include various fleets of boats using gillnets, gargoor, and trawls.  These boats consists of speedboats, which deploy gill nets and gargoor, dhow boats, which deploy gillnets, gargoor, and trawls, and steel hull industrial boats which are trawlers only.  Pictured here is an industrial trawler fishing two trawls with its outriggers.  These vessels fish for shrimp only, but with the trawl being a non-selective piece of gear, huge by-catches (pictured below) are also caught.  During Kuwait’s best shrimping season, 1988-89, industrial boats caught an average of 1,000 kg of shrimp per day thoughout the season.  Because of operating cost, the fishing companies are trading their industrial boats for dhow boats.