Fish Farm undertakes hatchery project in Umm Al Quwain

Public-private partnership aimed at improving long-term sustainability of fish stocks as a primary pillar of food diversity in the country

A fish hatchery will be set up in Umm Al Quwain that will help build artificial habitats over the next three years that will provide a safe environment for breeding fish.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and Fish Farm LLC recently signed a memorandum of understanding that authorises Fish Farm to operate a fish hatchery at the ministry’s Marine Environment Research Centre in Umm Al Quwain.

Sultan Alwan, Assistant Undersecretary of the Regions Sector at MOCCAE, and Bader Bin Mubarak, CEO of Fish Farm, signed the agreement in the presence of senior representatives from both entities.

Under the agreement, Fish Farm is authorised to operate and manage the fish hatchery located at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment’s Marine Environment Research Centre that comprises 24 tanks with a capacity of 10 cubic metres each.

Aside from managing and operating the hatchery, Fish Farm will also install 300 artificial caves to promote fish breeding every year for the three-year duration of the agreement.

This new public-private partnership will help improve the long-term sustainability of fisheries as a primary pillar of food diversity in the country, Alwan said.

“To meet this priority, we are keen to encourage the private sector to invest in marine aquaculture through supporting and facilitating such investments. The new initiative is an extension of our Artificial Caves programme launched in 2016 to build artificial habitats that provide a safe environment for the breeding of fish and other marine species,” Alwan said.

“Combined with the fishing regulations introduced by the ministry, the programme has led to a remarkable improvement in fish populations in these waters, as evidenced in a 2017 survey to study its impact.”

The ministry, in collaboration with the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, conducted a survey on fish populations in the UAE’s waters along the Arabian Gulf and the Sea of Oman at the end of 2017.

While previous surveys in 2001 and 2011 showed a decline in fish populations over 1980 numbers, the 2017 survey indicates that this decline has been curbed.

In fact, fish populations are once again thriving in some areas along the Sea of Oman. Several economically important species have also been spotted for the first time.

Finding modern solutions to the future challenges of sustaining fish populations locally and protecting all species against extinction and depletion are important roles Fish Farm is happy to take on, Bin Mubarak said.

Bin Mubarak said Fish Farm is the first in the world to breed five species of fish simultaneously and customise the surrounding climate to suit different fish species. He added that the company produces 2,500 tonnes of fish per annum and is a key contributor to enhancing food diversity in the UAE.

The impressive improvement in fish populations in 2017 is attributed to several factors. These include stricter public compliance with fishing regulations, the implementation of the Artificial Caves programme, the cultivation of coral reefs in damaged habitats, and the declaration of some marine areas as protected areas.

In 2017, the production capacity in 12 registered fish farms across the UAE was put at 3,255 tonnes. The farms primarily cultivated fish species such as Spotted Groupers (Hamour), Barramundi, Tilapia, Shrimp, Seabream, Sea Bass, Sturgeon, and other crustaceans and molluscs.

Source: Gulf News