Wednesday, January 14, 2015

14/01/2015: Sultan Qaboos University conducts special fish feast to boost aquaculture

The Department of Marine Science and Fisheries, College of Agricultural & Marine Sciences (CAMS) at Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) in Oman  recently organised a new fish tasting event: 'Barrakat Barramundi'. The event was the first phase of a research-extension project, The Times of Oman reports. 

Saad Al Amri, the chairman of the Marine Sciences & Fisheries (MSF) student society along with members of the group, prepared the event as one of the society's activities with the full support of Mohamed Al Rawahy, CAMS administrator.

They prepared three different types of barramundi dishes -- barbecue, deep fried and traditional Omani style dish (Sallonah). All the participants were asked which dish did they rate as the best form of 'barramundi' cooking. In the event, Bada Al Bawiqi, who is the leader of the aquaculture group at the MSF, explained the history of 'barramundi' aquaculture at the SQU, and thanked the VC's special funding in particular and his consideration and support to the aquaculture sector.

Commenting on the 'Barrakat Barramundi' event, Prof. Anvar Kacimov, Dean of the CAMS, lauded the efforts of the faculty, staff and students for organising such a unique event.   

"You should think big, act big and gain big. Students are on the frontline of the aquaculture revolution -- transition from scavenging the sea to cultivation of algae, fish and other species. The MSF students sweated in the field over days and nights in hot conditions, and the achievements are clearly visible today. It is a marvellous achievement of our students and proof of their capability to adapt their theoretical knowledge in a practical way," the Dean observed.

Asian seabass (Lates calcarifer) is known as barramundi around the world. Barramundi is widely distributed in the Indo-West Pacific region from the Arabian Gulf to China, Taiwan Province of China, Papua New Guinea, and northern Australia. Aquaculture of this species commenced in the 1970s in Thailand and rapidly spread throughout the world. 

Often these farms will culture a mixture of species including barramundi, groupers, and snappers. In 2010, its global production reached 75,000 tonnes. Most 'barramundi' are marketed at 500–900g although a small number of larger fish (weighing 1-3kg) are also sold.

There are two main farmed barramundi products: 'plate size' ranging from 350–500g, although larger (banquet) fish may be up to 800g, and fillet product generally in the range of 2-3kg.

The Department of Marine Science and Fisheries at the SQU introduced 5000 barramundi (average 3cm and weighing 1.5g) in November 2013 from Thailand for research purposes under the VC's special aquaculture sponsorship. 

Students in the department grew them at the AES and Al-Hail aquaculture stations. Now they have reached the commercial size of around 700g and more. 

Bada Al-Bawiqi said, "The culture of barramundi is much harder than culture of tilapia but as per my experience, this species is the most suitable among aquaculture species for Oman." 

Dr Gil Ha Yoon, supervisor of this project, added, "Barramundi grow very fast; ideally they reach a harvestable size (350g-3kg) in six months to two years even in hot water temperatures and they can grow very well in any level of water salinity. Therefore, there are many optimal places for barramundi cultivation.

“Saltwater-influenced agriculture farms will be the best place for this species in Oman. At the moment, we do not have a commercial size aquaculture farm at the SQU but I hope that this event, 'Barrakat Barramundi,' will catch the eye of other aquaculturists and investors who will support our future plans in scaling up barramundi production to commercial level.”

Read the article HERE.

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