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Kuwait's Post Gulf-War Shrimp Fishery and Stock Status from 1991/92 Through 1995/96

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Comparisons of catch and effort data from 5 seasons by dhow and industrial fleets showed annual landings to vary around the long-term average of 2100 tons. No direct long-term effects of the Gulf War were identified, but indirect effects have caused substantial changes in Kuwait's shrimp fishery. The effort expenditure in 1993/94 reached an all-time high of 17,615 industrial boat-days, more than the sum total of the last three seasons' effort (16,400 industrial boat-days) prior to the War. With a fixed number of industrial vessels, dhow boats have been responsible for the increased effort. Low total landings and catch rates since the Gulf War reflect low stock abundance and high effort. Penaeus semisulcatus , Kuwait's most important shrimp species, dominated shrimp landings for all 5 seasons, but its importance to the total landings declined to a historical low during the 1995/96 season accounting for only 50% of the dhow landings and presumably the industrial boat landings. The primary factors for this decrease appear to be increasing fishing pressure during the shrimp season as well as illegal trawling during closed season and altered discharge rates of the Shatt Al-Arab. Growth performance indices for P. semisulcatus , Metapenaeus affinis , and Parapenaeopsis stylifera during the 1995/96 season compared closely with those of the 1988/89, 1989/90, 1991/92, and 1992/93 seasons when shrimp populations experienced high densities, decreased water temperatures resulting from the oil-fire smoke, or overfishing and other environmental conditions. Fishing mortality of all species for 1995/96 exceeded the natural mortality, a clear indication of overexploitation. Results of bio-economic analysis show that 4000 industrial boat-days would maximize economic returns, while 8000 industrial boat-days would maximize the sustainable yield. Both the values are higher than estimates prior to the War. With both reversible (overfishing) and irreversible (altered Shatt Al-Arab discharge influences operating), prudent management of trawling effort will become increasingly important if Kuwait is to maintain its position as a shrimp exporter.
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Keywords: Metapenaeus affinis; Parapenaeopsis stylifera; Penaeus semisulcatus; bio-economics; environmental effects; overfishing; population dynamics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Mariculture and Fisheries Department, Food Resources Division, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, P. O. Box 1638, Salmiya 22017, Kuwait

Publication date: 01 September 1998

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