KAUST eyes NPC research tieup
Riyadh, June 2, 2010
A delegation from King Abudullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) visited the National Prawn Company (NPC), located south of Jeddah, to explore opportunities for collaboration on a variety of mutually beneficial research projects.
NPC, which runs one of the world's largest fully integrated prawn farming operations, is located on the shore of the Red Sea near Al Lith on a desert coastal strip occupying an area of just under 250 sq km.
The delegation, comprising senior faculty members of KAUST, was received by Ahmad R. Al Balla, managing director of NPC, and other senior officials who took them on an extensive tour of the aquaculture operations unit in Al Lith.
The university delegation, headed by Dr Abdullah L Almojel, vice president for university relations, included members of the following faculties: Chemical and Life Sciences and Engineering; Red Sea Science & Engineering; Computational Biosciences; Water Desalination and Reuse Centre besides acting KAUST provost, Dr Brian Moran.
Dr Abdullah L. Almojel said “We can see opportunities to collaborate across a range of fields from genome research, water management, marine biology and biotechnology. Any projects we develop together will provide value to our departments, our students and the Kingdom as a whole.”
NPC has started a fish farming operation with Greater Amberjack and is also developing 'what will become one of the world’s largest sea cucumber aquaculture operation.'
In addition to aquaculture, NPC has significant projects in chitin production and phytoplankton (algae) development in its marine agriculture arm.
NPC engineered the development of its farms from the very beginning taking into account required water flows and minimising energy usage. In addition, its breeding programme is one of the most advanced in the world as the company constantly strives to improve its broodstock.
The scientific approach NPC took from its inception in 1982 has resulted in a fully sustainable operation and allowed it to have the R&D expertise to develop new areas of business such as its marine agriculture project.
Al Balla said, “I look forward to establishing a strong relationship with KAUST. The development of marine sciences can, I believe, provide a strong platform for the development of aquaculture and associated industries in the Kingdom, which could help diversify the economy over the coming years”.
“NPC, as a leading global aquaculture company, is committed to helping develop the industry in Saudi Arabia. We are open to working with all academic institutions that wish to collaborate”, he stated.
“We have a strong working relationship with KAAU’s marine sciences faculty and we would welcome a similar relationship with KAUST,” he added.-TradeArabia News Service