Towards a sustainable catch: supporting Yemen’s tuna industry

May 1, 2024


In December 2016, the United Nations General Assembly designated May 2 as World Tuna Day to advocate for the importance of conservation management of tuna fish and to ensure that systems are set in place to prevent tuna stocks from declining. 

Many countries across the world, including Yemen, depend on tuna resources for food security and nutrition, economic development, employment, and livelihoods. However, the high market demand for tuna fish coupled with the global climate crisis and the limited access to tuna preservation equipment is leading to depletion in its stocks, consequently increasing the price of this household staple. 

A man carrying his fish catch.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

In Yemen, fisherfolk face additional hurdles as a result of the dire economic and security situation. For many, borrowing money for fuel is the only way in which they can take their boats out for fishing. Additionally, they face access restrictions in fishing areas that hinder them from fishing beyond certain points in the water, which impedes their ability to catch a bigger volume of fish. 

As a high-value fish, tuna is an important source of income for fisherfolk. By preserving it, they can store their catch for longer periods, ensuring steady income and a stable food supply, even during times of scarcity.

Rania Al Gharbi, a Fish and Food Technology graduate from Hadramaut at a fish bazar.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

Meet Rania Al Ghrabi. She is a Fish and Food Technology graduate hailing from Hadhramaut. Equipped with essential skills, knowledge, and grants through UNDP's Strengthening Institutional and Economic Resilience in Yemen (SIERY) Project, she is among the women in Aden and Hadramout who have ventured to create their own canned tuna production businesses at home.


Reflecting on her journey, Rania emphasizes the impact of the technical training she and 40 other women received through the SIERY Project. "Following the technical training we received, we learned to can and flavor tuna," she shares. "The flavors of tuna that we produce are very popular in the markets where we sell our products."

Jars of home made tuna prepared by the women who participated in SIERY's trainings

UNDP Yemen / 2023

Rania's story resonates with many women in Yemen's coastal regions, who have found empowerment and economic agency through the fish industry. However, one of the main challenges she and other women in this field face include limited knowledge of financial management. 

To bridge these knowledge gaps, UNDP offered specific trainings in Aden and Hadhramaut focused on business continuity management, finance, accounting and marketing. 

“The financial management training helped us overcome so many challenges,” reflects Rania. Undeterred, Rania refers to her endeavor as 'My Family Project,' highlighting the collective effort involved and the transfer of acquired skills and knowledge to her family. 

“A year from now, I hope to start my own trademark,” shares Rania. 

Women training participants at a Bazar organized by SIERY in Hadhramaut.

UNDP Yemen / 2023

As part of the trainings, participants took part in an exposure and exchange visit to Hadhramaut, where they had the opportunity to learn from one of Yemen's top fish associations about effective association management from a business operations lens. This included insights on managing sales, generating income and revenues, budgeting, maintaining quality standards, and marketing. Additionally, the participants learned from tuna factory owners about supply chain processes.

While most of the women were provided with grants to start their own small tuna canning businesses at home following the training, Foqom Women’s Tuna Association was supported to establish a tuna canning factory in Aden.

As the tuna factory nears completion, it stands as a beacon of hope for sustainable economic development in Yemen's coastal communities. Equipped with machinery that adheres to stringent quality assurance standards, the factory is poised to contribute significantly to the local economy while ensuring the responsible utilization of marine resources.

This activity was made possible thanks to generous funding from the European Union.