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JEDDAH: Every year around this time, fishermen in the Jazan region, particularly Farasan Island, prepare for a festive fishing season called Kunnah, derived from the Arabic word for thazard, kana’ad.

The Kunnah season indicates the start of summer and continues until the end of June.

It witnesses an abundance of fish of different types including trevally and parrotfish or Hipposcarus harid.

Farasan Island is located 50 km off the coast of Jazan, in the extreme southwest of Saudi Arabia, and is among the largest islands in the Red Sea.

Fishing seasons in the region vary according to its territorial waters, spanning the Red Sea, accounting for about 35 percent of Red Sea fish production and about 20 percent of the Kingdom’s fish production.

The Kunnah season in the Jazan region witnesses an abundance of fish of different types including trevally and parrotfish or Hipposcarus harid. (Provided)

One of Farasan’s most experienced fisherman, Madani Hunaishi, said people link Kunnah’s season with the trevally because it crosses the islands during its annual migration season from the northern side of the Red Sea at Jazan to its southern zone, laying eggs to begin its reproduction. cycle.

Jacks are often caught with large nets. But in Jazan they have special fishing rituals. Fishing trips start at night and the fish are attracted to the lighting.

They are caught in large quantities by fishermen in Jazan and then spread throughout the kingdom, including Jeddah and Riyadh, where the larger size of this fish is in high demand.

“Kingfish auctions start at the central fish markets for the larger sizes, as the huge ones are sold at a price ranging from SR 600 to SR 1,500 ($150 to $400),” Hunaishi told Arab News. .

Kunnah season is also known to be the parrotfish season. The people of Jazan receive it every year with singing, drumming, dancing and more because of all the bounties that come with it.

In a phenomenon peculiar to Jazan, Hipposcarus harid gather in shoals swimming in synchronicity to form a giant ball of over a thousand fish.

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• One of Farasan’s most experienced fisherman, Madani Hunaishi, said people link the Kunnah season with the trevally because it crosses the islands during its annual migration season from the northern side of the Red Sea at Jazan to its southern zone, laying eggs to begin its reproductive cycle.

• Jacks are often caught with large nets. But in Jazan they have special fishing rituals. Fishing trips start at night and the fish are attracted to the lighting.

This year marked the 18th annual Harid Fishing Festival, which is held in the region to celebrate the fishing of Hipposcarus harid.

This type of fish features bright colors and different sizes. They change color as they grow, and the color varies between males and females. They are considered parrotfish because they have teeth which they use to scrape food from coral reefs.

The National Center for Wildlife tweeted an infographic indicating that this group of coral reef fish inhabited coastal areas of tropical oceans such as the western Indian Ocean, Red Sea, and waters around Mozambique, Madagascar, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

The Jazani people have known about this annual phenomenon for generations, and it is through this knowledge that the Harid festival emerged.

The Governor of Jazan, Prince Mohammed bin Nasser, said at the inauguration of this year’s festival that studies were underway on the phenomenon of Hipposcarus harid appearing at this time of the year on the Farasan Islands.

He also said that the study would clarify the migration method of Hipposcarus harid, from its origin to its arrival, adding that although there is preliminary information, there was a desire to provide in-depth studies on this phenomenon. .

Jazan looks like a floating city during the festival due to the large number of fishing boats present and the sea lighting up at night. The activity and events attract visitors from outside Jazan and the Kingdom.

Due to the many fishing seasons throughout the year, the Jazan region produces around 11,000 metric tons of fish per year, with over 3,200 fishermen working along the coasts and benefiting from 17 fishing ports.

They sail daily during the season on 1,657 boats, contributing to investment in fishing and preserving the profession of fisherman.

To protect the marine environment from pollution and the region’s water resources, the Fisheries Research Center oversees the sector through inspection tours to control and regulate fishing and arrest those who violate the system.

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