Fishermen union invites Kuwaitis to practice profession ‘if they wish to’

KUWAIT: The Ministry of Commerce and Industry said it may use law 10/1979 with regards to supervising trade in commodities and set their prices. This comes in the aftermath of its recent regulations to organize fish market auctions, which helped drop prices before a reported fishermen strike caused prices to soar back to their original high rates. Article 1 of the law gives the minister authority to confiscate any product in exchange of just compensation that considers cost and reasonable profit. The second article says artificial price hike is not allowed and will be considered as spreading false news, or hoarding or hiding quantities of products in order to make profit outside the nature of supply and demand, adding that article 14 stipulates that anyone who commits such an act will be punished by a minimum of three months in jail and a maximum of three years, as well as a minimum fine of KD 2,000 and a maximum of KD 10,000. Article three says some products can be subjected to the pricing system, and decision in this regard is issued by the commerce minister. The ministry said it will not hesitate in implementing the law and fight cheating and manipulation, and will take legal action to maintain real prices.

Less boats
Meanwhile, head of the fishermen’s union Thaher Al-Suwayyan said the area of water in which fishing is permitted does not allow for issuing new fishing licenses, especially after reducing the number of boats from 750 to 350. He said the union wrote to the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources in 2017 to allow fishing in Kuwait Bay under its supervision and according to certain hours or days decided by them, but it was rejected.

Suwayyan said the approved fishermen in the union are Egyptian and Indian, adding that Kuwaitis can practice this job if they wish to. About mullet, he said, “we warned against this problem since the decision by the agriculture authority designating places outside Kuwait Bay to fish for it, but these areas are far away and do not have mullet, and all requests were rejected”. F

urthermore, Suwayyan said that union members met with commerce ministry officials on Wednesday, noting that the officials expressed understanding of many issues. “We explained fishermen did not strike, but we were surprised by the commerce ministry letter saying they were on strike and 23 boats were not operating,” he added. Fish prices reportedly dropped again yesterday following strict measures taken by the commerce ministry to monitor the implementation of the new circular, which was done earlier this week with hopes of preventing ‘manipulation of prices.’ The circular had been released in response to complaints that auctioneers, who are mostly expatriates, allegedly raise the prices to increase their profits. The circular stipulates that expatriates are not allowed to enter fish auctions unless authorized.

Rumors denied
In the meantime, a source from Kuwait’s Foreign Ministry denied on Wednesday rumors that circulated on social networks alleging that ministry officials held a meeting with Egyptian Ambassador to Kuwait Tareq Al-Qouni over fishermen strike. Deputy Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs Advisor Anas Al-Shaheen said in a press statement that there is totally no information or truth on this matter, and no meeting took place with the ambassador or any meeting regarding the Ministry of Commerce and Industry’s recent decision on the governing of sales to fishery. Shaheen also called for accurate reporting on such issues, and denounced the involvement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in issues related to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in accordance with the laws and regulations.

By Meshaal Al-Enezi