0758 GMT July 19, 2018
Iran exported aquatics valued at $507 million in the year to mid-March 2018, said the secretary general of Iran Fisheries Production and Trading Union (IFPTU).
The figure shows a 24-percent growth compared to that of the 12-month period to March 2017, which stood at $412 million, Ali-Akbar Khodaei told Iran Daily.
He said more than 50 percent of the country's aquatics exports pertains to non-edible fishes.
Commenting on non-edible fishes, he said these aquatics, which are mostly caught from the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman, include squid, cutlassfishes, catfish and eel.
Khodaei noted that thanks to the effective marketing to export non-edible fishes in the past five years, the overseas sales of such aquatics is currently generating substantial revenues for the country.
Prior to that, IFPTU secretary general said, these fishes were either discarded or powdered.
On the expected growth of Iran's aquatics exports in the year to March 2019, he said currently, the figure is not so predictable in view of the re-imposition of unilateral US sanctions as well as the foreign currency related problems and obstacles in the transfer of money to and from the country.
Khodaei hoped that Iran's overseas sales of aquatics would reach $550 million by March 2019.
During the 12-month period to March 2018, Iran exported 25,000 tons of farmed shrimp valued at $117 million, he said, adding, following non-edible fishes and shrimp, cyprinids and trout had the biggest share of Iran's aquatics exports, most of which were destined for Iraq, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia.
On imports, IFPTU secretary general said Iran annually purchases close to 100 tons of fish products.
He noted that imports are mainly raw materials used by Iranian fishery plants, adding they include 60,000 tons of fish products, such as salmon and Tilapia, as well as five tons of fish feed and fish powder.
"In the year to March 2018, Iran caught 650,000 tons of different kinds of fishes from the Caspian Sea (50,000 tons), northern Iran, and the Persian Gulf as well as Gulf of Oman (600,000 tons) in south of the country."
He added in this period, the country also produced 1.08 million tons of farmed fishes including sturgeon, shrimp, cyprinids and trout.
"These aquatics were farmed in pools located in Iranian farmlands."
Commenting on sturgeon farming, he said in the year to March 2018, Iran produced three tons of caviar, of which 1,200 kilograms were exported.
Khodaei added sturgeon is produced in Iran through farming since catching such fishes is prohibited for all the Caspian Sea littoral states until 2021.
He said Iran produces the best and most expensive caviar worldwide, adding, "The amount of our caviar production fails to be significant. Currently, China is the world's biggest caviar producer. In addition, European states such as France and Hungary as well as a number of Latin American countries including Argentina are among the producers of the product."
The major portion of Iranian caviar is destined for European countries such as Germany, the UK and Belgium as well as a number of Arab states, Khodaei noted.
He added in the year to March 2017, Iran's caviar was even exported to the US. "This year, to end March 2019, Iran's caviar production is expected to witness a 25-percent growth year-on-year to reach four tons, half of which, at least, would be exported."
Khodaei put per capita fish consumption in Iran at 11 kilograms per annum, adding, on average, the figure stands at 20 kilograms per year.