Fish farms can halve imports says expert
Manama, June 19, 2010
Bahrain could almost halve the amount of fish it needs to import annually if the private sector embraced the idea of fish farms, says an expert.
Overseas produce accounts for 40 per cent of the local market, according to National Pisciculture Centre head Dr Abdulredha Shams. But he says this could be drastically reduced if more fish farms were introduced.
"We are inviting private companies to contribute to this proposal," Dr Shams told the Gulf Daily News, our sister newspaper.
"If every private company established its own fish farm, imagine how much it could boost the economy and with it residents' consumption."
Dr Shams said imported fish was increasing rapidly every year and had now reached almost 4,000 tonnes.
He attributed this to the declining fish stocks, caused by land reclamation and over fishing as well as the increased number of fishing licences awarded.
According to latest Central Informatics Organisation figures, 4,373 metric tonnes of fish were imported in 2007 compared to a total of 4,289 in 2006 and 3,273 in 2005.
"Fish farms can contribute to food security and create job opportunities in the country," said Dr Shams. He added that it could also give more time to marine life to revive itself and grow.
"This is way it would indirectly benefit fishermen, who will witness an increase in fish stocks."
The National Pisciculture Centre is about to release its annual production of 200,000 fish.
Known as Ras Hayan Fish Farm, it focuses on breeding local fish in a bid to revive the Gulf's fish stocks.
Young hammour and subaity will be released into the sea in 20 different locations off the Bahrain coast over a three-week period.
They will be joined by young safi fish for the first time since the launch of the project 16 years ago. "Our centre is focused on boosting fish stocks by breeding local fish," said Dr Shams.
"We have a goal to add 100,000 fish each year to the current number of released fish."
The centre is also looking to improve production technologies and add new breeds of local fish to the production cycle.
Dr Shams earlier revealed that Bahrain's fish stocks had decreased so drastically that they could no longer support the country's fishing industry.
He claimed land reclamation was not the only reason for the massive decline and said over fishing was a major factor.
The expert said this was having a detrimental impact on Bahrain's fish stocks - particularly with fishermen catching half-grown fish in the process.
He warned fish stocks were only sufficient to support around 100 fishing dhows in Bahrain's waters where 700 were plying their trade. - TradeArabia News Service