By Ben Garcia
KUWAIT: After halting daily auctions of local fish at Souq Sharq in Kuwait City and Souq Al-Kout in Fahaheel, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry is setting the prices of all fish available in the market. The price of Hamour was set at KD 4 per kilo, baloul KD 6, nuwaibi KD 2, sha-em KD 3, sheem KD 5, nagrour KD 5, qubqub KD 2.500, biyya KD 2, subaiti KD 4.500, kanad KD 2.500, sheeri KD 2.500, t’lah KD 3.500, m’zeizei KD 5 and faskar KD 3 per kilo. Kuwaitis’ favorite fish zubaidi is classified depending on size – large (700 gm-1 kg) KD 11 per kilo, medium (400 gm to 600 gm) KD 8 and small (350 gm and less) KD 5.
“I’ve been here for many years now at Souq Mubarakiya, and if you compare the last few years, there seems to be a lot of disparity. There are only a few sellers now, and we barely have enough fish,” said Hashem, a fishmonger and owner of a stall in Mubarakiya. “Our prices here follow the prices set by the market. Whatever the prices at the big market in Sharq, we follow,” he added.
The fish market at Souq Mubarakiya was almost half empty and few fish were available when Kuwait Times visited the market at 10 am yesterday. “Perhaps because of the weather, stocks are few and prices have gone up. For many months during the pandemic, it has been like this. We cannot do anything about the prices,” said Hashem, who hails from Iran.
Doris, a restaurant owner and regular visitor of the fish market at Mubarakiya, said there have been changes in the prices of fish compared to the pre-COVID era. “Yeah, fish is expensive now! I normally buy fish at the auction because we can get discounts and offer it at the restaurant’s ‘all you can eat’ promo. But not anymore. I am now considering removing fish from my ‘all you can eat’ promo. Maybe instead of serving it whole, I will cut the fish in two or more pieces so that we can still serve fish. Fish is the bestselling item on the buffet at my restaurant,” she noted.
The government last Tuesday abruptly halted auctions at fish markets to curb the spread of the coronavirus due to overcrowding. The Kuwait Fisherman Union said the commerce ministry informed the union about the cancelation of auctions and that the ministry will set the prices for vendors and supermarkets. The decision led to a quota system for vendors and supermarkets.
“We have our contacts inside the fish market and they are distributing fish to all vendors accordingly. Fish are allocated for every stall; we only have to collect the stocks when ready,” said Noordin, a fishmonger from Bangladesh.
Fish caught in Kuwaiti waters account for a 20 percent share of the Kuwaiti market, with the rest imported from various countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Zubaidi, hamour, nuwaibi and maid are some of the variety of fish popular in Kuwait.