Iraqi government’s decision to dry up fish farms spark anger in Kirkuk
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – As Iraqi authorities on Sunday began sealing off fish farms in Kirkuk’s south, fishermen in Daquq district began protesting, warning the move would further destroy job prospects for the local population.
Per the latest decision by the Iraqi government, about 1,500 fish farms in the Daqooq district will be dried up since they are fed by fresh groundwater in a country that suffers from depleted water resources.
They “destroyed farms with live fish inside them” a protestor, who did not provide his name, told Kurdistan 24 close to a fish farm where the Iraqi army was guarding local authorities destroying the farms through power shovels.
“The decision will force many people in the area to go unemployed,” the protestor said, urging Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al-Sudani and other authorities to review the decision as it would “harm the people.”
Daqood district is home to 3,100 fish farms, where locals produce carp that Iraqis nationwide use for their beloved fish dish known as Masgouf.
Another fish farm owner said most of those who work on the ponds are not public servants and they merely rely on the monthly revenues from fish production.
The Iraqi government has begun shutting down the ponds since May this year, slashing annual fish production from one million tonnes of fish per year to 190,000 tonnes.
The authorities have so far closed down half of Iraq’s 5,000 “unlicensed” farms, Khaled Shamal, spokesman for the water resources ministry, told AFP in August.
Iraq, categorized by the United Nations, as the fifth most vulnerable country in the world to climate change effects, is already suffering the dire effects of the global phenomena.
Reduced water flows and high salinity are partially caused by upstream dam building, for which Baghdad blames Iran and Turkey for several dam constructions.
High salinity in Iraq's south has also killed thousands of fish in the southern Maysan province.
Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 Kirkuk reporter Dilan Barzan