Yemen participate in Seafood Expo in Brussels
The participating Yemeni companies were Broom, Aden Gulf Company, Al-Jazeera, Al-lo'lo'a and Al-Nasseri International Seafood Company.
At the ESE, the Yemeni exporters exhibited their seafood products among people and companies from different countries worldwide. Moreover, they forged connections with new clients, and learned about modern seafood production, packaging and transportation techniques.
The ESE aimed at relaying know-how to seafood exporters about industry practices such as packaging, trade marking, shipping, transferring and distributing products.
Held annually in Brussels for the past 20 years, the ESE is considered the most important seafood exposition in the world. 1600 companies from 80 countries participated this year.
A special Yemeni section composed of five Yemeni export companies and the YSEA, in coordination with the Small and Micro Enterprise Promotion Service (SMEPS), presented Yemeni seafood products.
The participants met several representatives of seafood import companies and talked with them about the different varieties of fish in Yemeni waters, their quantities, and in which season they thrive.
Several international companies, including those from countries like Vietnam and China, visited the Yemeni section of the exposition.
The section included samples of fish found in Yemeni waters, a video show presenting different production processes, as well as photographs of various fish.
Other visitors who came to the Yemeni section included major figures from different European seafood import companies.
Yemeni exporters expect that they will increase exports due to their participation in the ESE, where they met clients face-to-face, instead of relying on brokers.
"Participation gave me the chance to get to know several directors from several companies from around the world. I talked with them about my company's products," said Yaser Al-Nasseri, director of Al-Nasseri International Seafood.
"What is important is that we came into personal contact with the clients and were able to avoid brokerage companies, to whom we used to pay $70-80 thousand per year to put buyers and sellers together in order to facilitate a transaction," he added.
During the exposition, representatives of the YSEA met Woolf Martin Mayer, a member of the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers of the European Commission (EC).
Mayer said that the excellent reputation of Yemeni fish has prompted the EC to continue importing it over a number of years.
Yemeni seafood exporters expressed their regret that the Yemeni Ministry of Fisheries paid no attention to the ESE's invitation, which they consider an excellent opportunity to boost Yemeni seafood imports to European markets.
"Participation in the ESE is of tremendous value for Yemeni companies. They sold out their goods to the other companies in the exposition and signed new export contracts with a number of other companies," said Ali Al-Habshi, secretary general of the YSEA and the director of Broom Company.
Whether in the Red Sea or the Arabian Sea, a tremendous variety of fish is to be found. Squid are particularly abundant. The level of production in Yemeni waters is estimated at 22 thousand tons per year, according to Al-Habshi.
"Squid forms 30 percent of Yemeni seafood exports. It is found in a number of countries around the Indian Ocean. Mackerel and sardines are abundant as well. These varieties are exported to European, Arab and African countries," he added.
China is the largest importer of fish from Yemen, followed by Malaysia and Thailand. Several African countries have recently begun importing Yemeni fish.
European markets used to take 30 percent of Yemeni fish exports, but currently only import nine percent because of the turmoil in Yemen last year. Another reason contributing to lowered European fish imports from Yemen is that Yemen is not a member of the Indian Ocean Tuna Organization, to which European markets have strong ties.
Despite this, Yemen occupies a strong position among seafood-exporting countries and is making progress. The participation of Yemen in the ESE was critical to this progress, according to Alexander Feg, director of Nobel Norwegian Company for Seafood Products.
"The first thing importers look for in the exposition is weather good fish is available," he said.
"Exporters may gain new clients [at the exposition], but only if they are able to make clients trust them by presenting high-quality seafood products," he added.
Nearly all Yemeni export companies have said that they find it difficult to continue working because of outdated fishing techniques used in Yemen.
Moreover, the lack of supervision allows exporters to violate export laws and international standards of quality.
The YSEA continues its efforts to improve the quality of Yemeni seafood in order to increase exports and help put an end to Yemen's recession. Unless the Ministry of Fisheries provides financial support, several of the country's export companies may face bankruptcy because of last year's unrest.
"Some clients have complained of the high price of Yemeni fish, but this is a result of the cost of shipping and production. I hope that the problem will be solved soon," said Hamdi Al-Huraibi, the general manager of Aden Gulf Limited Company.