Thursday, December 11, 2014

11/12/2014: Pioneering Bahraini fish farm markets first catch

A pioneering fish farm established last year to protect Bahrain's dwindling fish stocks has released its first catch into the market, Trade Arabia reports.
Asmak Bahrain, located on the country's east coast, supplied two tonnes of sea bream through supermarkets and wholesalers. The first phase of the project has cost US$3.6 million with the second and third stages expected to cost a further US$2.6 million each.
“We're hoping to produce a total of 10 tonnes in December, 20 tonnes in January and manage a steady 30 tonnes a month after that,” said Asmak Bahrain chairman and managing director Sager Shaheen yesterday.
“Right now the fish we're supplying is European sea bream, which we started with in December 2013. It's taken a full year to mature, but with the sea bass that we brought in June it will hopefully only take six months. Right now we have 180 tonnes of fish and we're hoping to take it up to 600 tonnes in 2015. We also want to introduce grouper and rabbitfish, but we're waiting for the government to provide us with the initial amounts.”
The fish farm covers a total area of 240,000 square metres, but only 80,000 square metres is currently being used. It consists of 36 underwater cages and fish are moved into larger enclosures as they mature.
“We have 36 cages - 24 big ones and 12 small ones,” said Shaheen.
Fish are caught three times a week and the sea bream is being supplied to the market at about US$8 per kg.
“A lot of supermarkets are stakeholders in the company so we're supplying to them and they're selling it,” added Shaheen.
“There are also some people who buy in quantities. As a company we cannot set the market value, but anyone who comes to us will get the set price.” 

He added that Asmak had received calls from across the GCC and internationally, asking to buy fish.
“We have had calls from abroad asking to buy the entire stock,” he said.
“But we said no, as the point is to ensure Bahrain's food security. Only once the government says we have supplied enough to the local market will we begin to export. However, we will not be releasing any fish into the sea - it's not our role to replenish the fish stocks - that's the government's job."
He said it was important to make sure that Bahrain was well stocked with fish, particularly in light of the decreasing sizes of catch at sea. 

“All of us know that there is no (longer) fish like there used to be in Bahrain,” he said.
“When we were young we used to be able to catch fish almost from the shoreline at Seef. Now you have to go really far out before you find anything and half of the country's fish intake is imported. 

"We are made up of islands, so why not create fish farms? When we have a good amount, prices will also become more competitive. It provides both food security for the country and gives us an export product.
"When I want to export, I put a request forward showing them how many tonnes I've provided. If they decide there's enough for the Bahraini market, I'll be able to export the rest. However, I don't know how many tonnes they want before they allow us to export.” 

Read more HERE.

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