Private fish farms on way in Bahrain
Manama, May 31, 2012
Privatised fish farms will soon be up and running in Bahrain in a bid to halt dwindling fish stocks, said a senior government official.
Four Bahraini investors will start work on the project, which aims to drastically reduce the country's dependence on imports.
Suggested areas to host the farms have been earmarked as authorities earlier hoped the initiative would ensure Bahrain produces at least half the fish it has to import annually.
The investors would also be provided with technical and logistic support necessary for the four farms, in addition to initially receiving young fish to breed.
"We will have two types of locations, closed and open farms," said Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife marine resources director-general Jassim Al Qassir.
"The closed farms will be 6,000 sq m and the open farms will be up to 2.5 sq km. The four investors, one of them is a consortium presented to us through the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will have to fulfil the needs of the local market first and then any excess could be sold abroad.
"We will also allow the investors to sell less demanded fish that they may want to mariculture as extra to international markets."
Al Qasser was speaking during a visit to the National Mariculture Centre in Ras Hayyan yesterday and was accompanied by Philippine Ambassador Corazon Yap-Bahjin and diplomats from the Thai, Chinese and Indonesian embassies.
"The cost of breeding is very high and can't be covered by the government," said Al Qaseer.
"We can still take care of young fish, but as soon as they grow, they become very difficult to feed and deal with. The centre doesn't produce fish for consumption and the facilities we have here are just for testing."
Al Qaseer said Bahrain has been significantly affected by declining fish stock, caused by land reclamation, overfishing, increased number of fishing licences awarded and a 30 per cent reduction in fish stock in the GCC since the late 90s.
"We have around 2,500 registered dhows and boats, out of which 350 are for shrimping, and around 1,700 licensed fishermen in addition to hundreds of amateurs, which is the main reason behind reduced fish stock," he said.
"We are working with parliament to solve the licensing problem and the possibilities of decreasing the number of permits as fishermen are competing between themselves on who gets the highest yield rather than being reasonable and sensible.
"Reclamation is another dangerous factor, but is not as dangerous as overfishing."
Al Qaseer said that Southeast Asian countries were helping Bahrain through technical support to improve the number of existing stocks.
"Southeast Asian countries have been helping us a lot through technical support and are continuing to provide us with the latest advancements in the protection field," he said.
"There help is still second to awareness amongst fishermen about the dangers of the disappearance of yields of certain fish in future." – TradeArabia News Service
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