Fisheries sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Analysis of the fisheries sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The agriculture and food industries are a vital sector in the Kingdom, and it is expected to witness significant growth as a result of increasing local, regional and international demand for food products. The Kingdom aims to increase the percentage of localization in the food industry sector to 85% by 2030, as the value of the food and beverage market is estimated at approximately $42 billion.

The increased demand in this market is due to several factors, including:

  • Overpopulation: The Saudi population continues to increase, along with rising numbers of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims, boosting demand for the food and beverage market.

  • aFor household spending: Saudi household spending on food and beverages constitutes an estimated percentage of approximately 18% of the total, which is an indicator of permanent demand in this sector.

  • High demand for fish: Domestic demand for fish and fish products is expected to increase, and the government expects domestic fish consumption to rise from 310 tons to 865 tons by 2030.

  • Fish farming: The Kingdom is moving towards increasing fish production through aquaculture, as it aims to achieve a production of 530,000 tons by 2030.

  • Fish wealth: The Kingdom's fish wealth is considered to be more than five million tons of fish, making it a certified supplier of seafood, and is expected to constitute a 5% proportion of its exports to European Union markets in the coming years.

Collectively, these factors demonstrate that the Kingdom’s food and beverage market holds significant growth potential, and confirm the government’s commitment to promoting nationalization and strengthening the food industry sector to achieve the goals of Vision 2030.

This market is attractive for investment due to the increasing demand for fishery products, and this opportunity can be taken advantage of to meet the growing demand for the products of this sector at the local level. Investment in this field can meet the needs of the local market and achieve self-sufficiency, instead of relying on imports from abroad and filling the current gap between demand and supply.

The Kingdom provides support to the food and fish industries sector through:

  • Support financing costs: The government provides 75% support for capital expenditures, which reduces the overall cost of projects and increases their attractiveness to investors.

  • Direct financial support and interest-free loans: The support consists of providing existing monthly production, interest-free loans, and discounts on the purchase of equipment, which contributes to stimulating production activities and reduces costs for producers.

Thus, it appears that investment in this sector holds great potential for returns due to the continuous increasing demand, and enjoys government support that enhances its attractiveness as a profitable investment opportunity.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a fish wealth estimated at more than five million tons of fish, and is an approved supplier of seafood to European Union markets.
The Kingdom aims to increase its production to meet the growing demand in the export market, especially with the high demand for shrimp, mackerel and crab. With domestic fish consumption expected to increase from 310 tons to 865 tons by 2030 at an annual rate of 5%, the Kingdom seeks to increase fish production through aquaculture to 530,000 tons by the same year. The Kingdom also seeks to raise the rate of self-sufficiency in the fish sector and achieve food security in various sectors. There is enormous potential in the aquaculture sector, which allows the Kingdom to export high-quality marine products. The Kingdom also provides all necessary support for such projects with the aim of achieving its vision and goals in strengthening the fish sector, achieving its sustainability, and meeting the needs of the local and international market.

Developing the fisheries sector and achieving self-sufficiency within the goals of Vision 2030 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is characterized by a focus on promoting development and prosperity in this vital sector. Improving and developing fish wealth aims to strengthen the economy and achieve sustainable development goals by supporting food security and providing high-quality products.
Objectives related to this context are diverse and include:

  • Development and development of the sector: Efforts focus on promoting the growth and development of fisheries in accordance with the outputs of the Fisheries Development Program.

  • Activating systems and legislation: Ensuring the role of regulations and legislation in serving the sector and ensuring an effective implementation mechanism.

  • Enhancing the role of sustainability: Supporting projects and enhancing the role of biosafety to confront disease challenges and enhance the sustainability of the sector.

  • Facilitating investment procedures: Simplifying procedures to encourage investment in this sector.

  • Raising the level of product quality: Focus on improving the quality of fish products.

  • Increasing production from fish farms: Contributing to achieving food security by increasing fish farm production.

  • Promoting health awareness: Promoting awareness of the importance of fish products and increasing consumption rates to achieve the global level.

  • Developing the local market environment: Improving the local market environment to support the fishery sector.

  • Development of fishing ports: Establishing and developing fishing ports in all regions to enhance the ability of fishermen to practice their work.

  • Preserving the fishing profession: Supporting fishing communities and encouraging Saudis to work in the fishing field.

  • Supporting fish stocks: Contributing to preserving and enhancing fish stocks.

  • Strengthening the role of the private sector in ports: Encouraging the role of the private sector in investing and managing fishing ports.

  • Expanding the scope of cooperative societies: Expanding the establishment of cooperative societies in the sector.

  • Strengthening the role of applied research: Supporting applied research to improve fishing and farming methods.

  • Forming local and global partnerships: Establishing and developing partnerships with local and international institutions to enhance the development of the sector.

  • Supporting the private sector in development programs: Strengthening the role and participation of the private sector in fish wealth development programs in the Kingdom.

The fish wealth in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of its most important resources, especially with its coastlines extending along the Red Sea (1,830 km) and the Arabian Gulf (650 km), providing a total marine coastline estimated at about 2,500 km. The marine environment is characterized by the warmth of its waters, which enhances its fertility and supports the reproduction of fish wealth. This situation encourages the development of the aquaculture industry to support fish production. Saudi fish production has reached more than 8,000 tons of marine fish, including species such as European sea bream and barramundi or sea bass. The Kingdom's fisheries operate from both the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf, producing approximately 70,000 tons of fish annually.
Arabian Gulf production represents 63% of total production, while Red Sea production represents 36%. Indicators show that Saudi Arabia leads the world in aquaculture practices, with most aquaculture projects obtaining certificates of best aquaculture practices, according to indicators of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Consumption rates for marine products from aquaculture exceed consumption from natural sources, and the Kingdom seeks to achieve self-sufficiency in fish resources within 5 years. The total number of fishing boats for 2021 indicates that there are about 10,764 boats, with the number of traditional boats in the Arabian Gulf reaching 2,133, while the number of boats in the Red Sea is 8,475.

Overall, the total number of workers in the fishery for 2021 was 30,019.

The following table shows the total catch of marine fisheries and aquaculture in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the period (2015-2021):

the year Marine fisheries Fish farming
Traditional fisheries Industrial fisheries Fresh water farming Saltwater culture
2015 17940 5122 6825 31945
2016 18176 5180 7710 32570
2017 18058 5211 8500 46500
2018 18191 5825 6546 65766
2019 18253 5911 9217 66113
2020 17057 5734 22763 77237
2021 16085 5418 27705 86197

As for fish landings by region in the Red Sea during the period (2015-2021):

Jazan region Asir region Makkah Medina region Tabuk region the year
7617 1299 5228 1400 2396 2015
7753 1275 5196 1551 2401 2016
7781 1279 5117 1509 2372 2017
7743 1260 5190 1609 2389 2018
7761 1322 5225 1644 2301 2019
7511 1010 5101 1413 2022 2020
7622 979 5089 1122 1273 2021

The following table shows the number of fisheries projects licensed by the Ministry during 2021:

2021 Project Type
Annual productivity Number of projects
27705 252 Aquaculture in inland waters
15082 7 Aquaculture in marine waters
71115 7 Shrimp farming in marine waters
26 1 Ornamental fish farms

The Kingdom seeks to increase the number of projects to achieve high rates of self-sufficiency in fish and shrimp. The following table shows the volume of local production and consumption of fish and shrimp during two years (2020-2021), the sufficiency rate, and net imports, and the quantities are considered in tons:

2021 2020 Indicator
Shrimp fish Shrimp fish
78280 98983 55651 109979 Local production
52702 246451 52946 291655 Domestic consumption
-25578 147468 -2705 181676 Net imports
149 40% 105.11% 37.71% Sufficiency ratio
1.94 8.8 1.94 8.8 Consumption rate per capita in kilograms/year

From the previous table, it is clear that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia achieves a low sufficiency rate in fish, as it achieved a sufficiency rate in 2020 (37.71%) and in 2021 (40%). Therefore, the Kingdom seeks to increase local production of fish in order to achieve self-sufficiency and also export abroad for that reason. It encourages investment in the fisheries sector with the aim of increasing local fish production and achieving the goals of Vision 2030. The Kingdom provides sufficient support to projects in this sector in order to encourage investment in this field.

Aquaculture companies in Saudi Arabia:

  • Tabuk Fish Company: Tabuk Fish Company is considered one of the leading companies in the field of fish farming in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was established as a closed joint stock company, with a capital of 100,000,000 Saudi riyals. Its projects are located in the northern region of Tabuk, in the village of Al-Muwaileh, about 50 kilometers north of Duba. The company's current production is about 2000 tons annually.

  • Achievements of Tabuk Fish Farming Company:
  • It is considered one of the first fish farming companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at sea, and it continues to develop studies and research in this field.
  • It seeks to strengthen the national economy and achieve food security in the Kingdom, and aims to provide fish wealth of up to 600,000 tons annually to achieve sustainable development.
  • It establishes fish farms offshore to provide funding for inland farms.
  • Exporting fish and marine products and distributing them wholesale and retail, in addition to delivering ready-made meals to customers.
  • Contact number: +966 11 477 8911

  • Naqwa Company:
  • Naqwa Company is considered one of the most prominent fish farming companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and globally. Its fish farming farms are located 180 kilometers south of Jeddah. It is the first company to obtain a global classification as a seafood producer.

  • Achievements of Naqwa Fish Farming Company:
  • It is among the fish farming companies in the Kingdom that specialize in the production of shrimp and fish, with an investment of up to 4 billion Saudi riyals.
  • It adopts sensitive and environmentally friendly production methods to preserve marine life and the aquatic environment.
  • The company's operational workforce is about 4,000 workers of different nationalities, representing 32 nationalities around the world.

  • Production capacity: The production capacity of Naqwa Company in the field of fish farming is 100 thousand tons annually of marine products.

  • Global Export: Naqwa Company is one of the leading companies in exporting marine products, as it exports fish and shrimp to several countries around the world, including Japan, Korea, China, Australia, and the United States, in addition to European and Arab countries.

  • Among the most important projects of Naqwa Company are:
  • Fish project
  • Shrimp project
  • Sea cucumber project
  • Feed project
  • Saudi Fish Company:
  • Type: A Saudi joint stock company in the field of fish farming and fishing.
  • ObjectivesThe company relies on expanding investment in water resources of various types and industries, and seeks to provide marketing on a global and local level.


  • It is considered one of the first fish farming companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and is distinguished by its extensive experience and advanced infrastructure.

  • It mainly contributes to the fields of aquaculture, fishing, and logistics services. It also works in the fields of marine food manufacturing, retail and wholesale trade, in addition to restaurant management and operation.

  • The company works to achieve food security and enhance fish wealth in order to achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, by improving the quality of fish farming and ensuring food safety.

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