Daquq fish recorded highest price in 10 years, government intends to shut farms

Kirkuk, September 2022: Workers loading fishes to bags in Daquq. KirkukNow

By KirkukNow

The government intends to close all fish ponds in Daquq district, south of Kirkuk, on the grounds that they were established illegally and pose a threat to groundwater reserves, despite the great popularity of Daquq fish, which registered highest price in ten years.

In Daquq district, according to (KirkukNow) follow-up, there are nearly 3,000 fish ponds that represent the livelihood of thousands of families, but the statistics of the Water Resources Department in Daquq indicate that only seven of them are licensed, which prompted the government to threaten to close them.

Imad Baqi, a resident of Daquq district, who is among the thousands whose families depend on fish production, describes this year as the "golden year for Daquq fish", because of its high price.

This year, the price of one kilogram KG of daquq fish reached 11,000 Iraqi dinars IQD (USD8), the highest price in the past ten years, compared to 4,000-5,000 dinars IQD/kg.

"In some years, our sales did not meet our expenses, and sometimes we incurred losses, but this year, despite the increase in the price of fish food, we achieved good profits," Emad said.

Imad, whose fish pond is located in the Jobkhana area, north of Daquq, 44 km south of the city of Kirkuk, annually sells about 150,000 fishes, each weighing 2-3kg.

despite the increase in the price of fish food, we achieved good profits

Muhammad Jawamir, who owns four fish ponds in the Talabani area in Daquq, says that the increase in fish prices was accompanied by a rise in the prices of fish feed to double what they were.

In previous years, we used to buy fish feed at a price of 600,000 inars per ton, this year the price of feed reached one 1.3 million dinars, as each fish needs five kilograms of feed to reach two and a half kilograms, he added.

Kirkuk, September 2022: One of the fish farms of Daquq. KirkukNow

Daquq fish is famous for its special taste and is very popular, so that restaurants and fish grills in most governorates of Iraq take advantage of the fame of Daquq fish to attract customers.

The fish ponds in Daquq provide a livelihood for thousands of fish farm owners, transport vehicle drivers and restaurant owners, but the statistics of the Daquq Water Resources Department indicate that out of 3,000 ponds, only seven of them are licensed.

Shiwan Taher, a truck driver transporting fish from ponds to markets and restaurants, says that the government, instead of providing support, puts obstacles in the way of their work.

"The checkpoints prevent the passage of our shipments to the cities of the Kurdistan Region (Iraq, KRI) saying it is forbidden, so we sometimes have to smuggle it."

"Restaurants and fish markets in the governorates of Iraq constantly ask us to supply them with fish, as there is a great demand for it," he added.

A source in the Water Resources Department in Daquq district anonymously told KirkukNow based on the recommendations of the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources, a team was formed to remove abuses on Kirkuk water projects, including fish ponds.

“We gave the owners of the fish ponds one month to remove those ponds."

“We gave the owners of the fish ponds one month to remove those ponds."

"In addition to being infringements, these basins pose a threat to the groundwater, as they depend on drilling wells... Also, the lands that are converted into fish ponds cannot be used later for agriculture," he added.

This comes at a time when the month of January of this year witnessed a demonstration by the owners of fish farms, protesting the decision of the Ministry of Water Resources to remove these ponds, but the Kirkuk administration suspended the decision temporarily and asked the Daquq District Commissioner to address the ministry in this regard.

Kirkuk, September 2022: Workers loading fishes to bags in one of Daquq's fish farms. KirkukNow

Giving a period of one month to the fish ponds in Daquq comes while some of the fish that are being raised in these ponds are still small in size and need more than a month to be ready for marketing.

Last January, the administration of Kirkuk said it seeking to prevent the implementation of a decision by the Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources to demolish unlicensed water wells, which if implemented would harm hundreds of farmers whose livelihood depends on fish ponds. On January 11, fish farmers of Daquq gathered in front of the mayor office and demanded the annulment of the decision of the Ministry of Water Resources.

The owners of aquariums in Daquq district, including Shallal Ahmed, stressed to KirkukNow that they are not ready to implement the decision.

Daquq farmers buy small fish from the city of Hilla, the center of Babil Governorate, at a price ranging between 150-200 IQD and raise them in fish ponds.

Three types of fish are raised in Daquq ponds: carp, silver and Glass. Shalal Ahmed says that carp is more popular than other types.

Each dunum of land that is converted into fish ponds can accommodate 750 to 1,000 fish. "If we put more than that, it will die because of lack of oxygen," says Shallal.

Shallal appealls to the government “to support us and not to remove the fish ponds because they are the source of livelihood for thousands of families."

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