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(SESRI) at QU conducted its research study on fish consumption in the state of Qatar | Qatar University

(SESRI) at QU conducted its research study on fish consumption in the state of Qatar

2021-08-31

Dr. Sana Abusin, Research Associate at (SESRI) Social and Economic Survey Research Institute, Qatar University (QU) conducted a research studies on fish consumption in the state of Qatar.

Research studies on fish consumption became very important. Studying fish consumption is vital to estimate local demand and hence identify the gap between production and imports. Managers will also be able to manage fish stock by using the insights acquired from these studies. In particular, they will be able to identify fish species that are in high demand. Hence, they could formulate the necessary policies pertaining to fishery sustainability.

Despite the importance of fish consumption, socioeconomic aspects in understanding local production, consumption, import, and export of fish, there is lack of statistics and very few and outdated publications on fish consumptions exist. Therefore, the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute (SESRI) at Qatar University conducted its fourteenth Qatar Semi-Annual Survey (QSAS) in May 2019 to provide valuable information to decision-makers, politicians, scholars, and students about the general opinion of the three main groups of residents in Qatar (Qataris “citizens”, white-collar “expatriates” and blue-collar “labourers”). The survey consisted of 2335 completed telephone interviews conducted across the three segments of the Qatar population (Qataris (677), white-collar (821) and blue-collar workers (837)).

Socio-economic aspects of fish consumption

To understand respondents socio-economic aspects of fish consumption in Qatar, consumption rates were determined by asking respondents about the number of times they consumed fish per month. Based on their responses, three categories are created: low (1–3), moderate (4–8) and high (more than 8) times per month.
Results showed that, among all respondents, blue-collar workers reported the highest fish consumption compared to Qataris and white-collar workers. Moreover, the frequency of consuming fish increased with education and preference to consume local species for moderate consumers. White-collar workers and Qataris prefer local fish, while blue-collar workers prefer imported fish. This may be because of lower prices and willingness to consume freshwater fish species found in their home countries.
Consumers were asked about reasons for not consuming fish. Result showed that, the religious reason of not consuming fish registered higher records. This might be affected by the fact that the data were collected during Ramadan, when most people prefer not to eat fish. Other factors negatively influencing fish consumption in Qatar are the existence of bones and the strong smell of the fish, in addition to people being vegetarians or allergic to fish.

Commercial fish species and their preference in Qatar community

 Most preferred fish species in Qatar

Figure 1. Most preferred fish species in Qatar.

Qatar community has different rate of consumption based on species that they prefer. Figure (1) shows the different rate at which commercial fish species are consumed in Qatar. It is quite clear that there is consumption pressure on only four species compared to others, which may affect the fish diversity and threat their sustainability.

Most preferred fish species by respondents

Figure 2. Most preferred fish species by respondents.

Fish consumption preferences were studied in more details based on respondents’ type. Results in figure (2) revealed that, among a total number of ten commercial species, Qataris mainly prefer to consume four: Humour, Safi, Kanaad and Shaari. Other respondents prefer these fish species too, but with different preference rate. In addition to the most preferred four species, white-and blue-collared workers prefer Tilapia and Salmon, the reason behind this might likely be because they consumed them in their home countries.

Fish consummation as part of food security strategy

Factors that affected the purchase of fish or other fishery products

Figure 3. Factors that affected the purchase of fish or other fishery products.

The fisheries sector in Qatar is generally artisanal in nature, but has grown remarkably in the last decade. According to food security strategy 2018-2023, Self-sufficiency in fish products in Qatar was estimated at 74% in 2020 and the average annual consumption was about 22.3 kg per capita, roughly the same as the world average. Respondents were asked about factors that affected the purchase of fish or other fisheries products. The results showed that fish products are affordable, fresh, healthy and tasty. Commercial fish species are available at various prices to ensure that all members of Qatar’s diverse community can access and consume fresh fish according to their budgets. Moreover, most respondents reported buying fish from supermarkets and as part of its food security strategy, Qatar has established new local markets for fish, such as the Um Salal market. Um Salal market replaced the old Abu Hamour market because of its proximity to fresh fish sources, such as Al-Khor and Al-Shamal.

Tilapia consumption in Qatar

Tilapia is one of the fresh water fish species that is introduced to Qatar fisheries, to be produced as an aquaculture product, so to fill the fish consumption gap and ensure that a shift to 90% fish self-sufficiency is achieved. The following graphs present social acceptance of this emerging species.

Acceptance of Tilapia consumption if it would be produced locally

Figure 4. Acceptance of Tilapia consumption if it would be produced locally.

Respondents were asked a hypothetical question,” Would they eat Tilapia if it were produced locally”. The results showed that 65% of people in Qatar would probably eat it, which gives a good indication that producing Tilapia would be a step toward to fulfilling the food security strategy’s goal.

Tilapia consumption by respondents

Figure 5. Tilapia consumption by respondents.

In order to know more details about Tilapia consumption in Qatar, the data was analyzed based on the respondent type. It seemed that both white-collar and blue-collar workers had enough knowledge about the emerging Tilapia fish and are willing to consume it that likely reflects their diverse origins from countries with fresh water fish species. In addition, half of Qataris are willing to consume Tilapia, revealing unexpected but positive findings.

Policy Recommendations

  • Conducting a health awareness campaign to increase the consumption rate of fish species that are not under pressure, especially to safeguard fish biodiversity.
  • Using species that are not highly demanded, as “byproducts” such as, animal feed and/or feeding aquaculture species by converting these fish to small cubes.
  • Studying the Qatari community’s willingness to consume processed fish of species in low demand in the form of canned fish, snacks and dry fish protein.
  • Opening foreign investment opportunities in some areas, including efficient aquaculture and land-based systems to produce fish species that supports the fish stock under pressure.
  • Rationalizing the management of the fisheries in Qatar to meet increasing demand and to change the fish industry from its artisanal nature to a more commercialized sector.
Related Files
  • Fish Question
  • Fish Question 2