(Persia digest)- A senior Agriculture Ministry official says Iran now ranks first in the world in production of trout and sturgeon.

According to Deputy Minister of Agricultural and Head of Iran Fisheries Organization Hassan Salehi in the previous calendar year (ended March 20, 2017), Iran took a major step in the fisheries sector by realizing a production of nearly 1.1 million tons of aquatic species.

Of the overall output, 54% pertained to fishing in the sea and mainly free waters while the remaining 46 per cent resulted from farming fishery products giving the country the top position in this regard, he noted in an Mehr News Agency report.

He said the country exported 120 thousand tons of fishery products last year and fetched 412 million dollars in revenue.

“Over 400 processing centers are currently active in various fishery sectors like canning, powder production and packaging giving way to creation of 220,000 direct jobs.”

Once the world’s biggest exporter of the luxury food, Iran sold more than 40 tons of sturgeon eggs in 2000. Exports plunged to just 1 ton last year due to dwindling fish stocks and trade sanctions which were imposed in response to Tehran’s nuclear program.

But last year’s landmark deal under which the country agreed to curb its nuclear ambitions in exchange for the removal of sanctions imposed in 2010, has sparked hope of a revival in the exclusive egg trade. 

Caviar production fits with the Iranian government’s plan to reduce reliance on crude-oil revenues and build up a broader range of exports.

Lifting sanctions, specifically banking restrictions, facilitate caviar exports and help the industry flourish in Iran.

Salehi stressed that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) had played a huge role in the Iranian fishery industry, asserting: “Russia restricted imports from Europe and the US in retaliation for their sanctions creating an invaluable market for Iranian products.”

The official noted that Iran still needs to work on establishing proper infrastructure for meeting demands of foreign buyers like Russia. “Today, Russians are putting a demand for 100,000 tons of Iranian fishery products, shrimp in particular.”

Following JCPOA implementation, three thousand tons of these products have been supplied to the Russian market.

“Last year 10,000 tons of the overall 160,000 tons of produced trout were exported while the figure for the current year is projected at 30,000 tons.”

The official further noted that Iran has a low per capita consumption of about 10 kilograms while the global average stands at 20 kg. “In a bid to boost people’s health, the current per capita needs to rise by producing processed products.”

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