Aquaculture: A Promising Sector Promoting the National Economy and Attracting Local and Foreign Investors
The National Fisheries Development Program in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which was approved by Resolution No. 514 of the Council of Ministers and supervised by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, is a comprehensive national strategy designed to develop the fisheries and aquaculture sector and enhance its sustainable economic role.
The program aims at optimizing the use of the Kingdom's natural resources in the field of fisheries, supporting the aquaculture sector to increase its contribution to GDP, as well as achieving self-sufficiency by meeting the domestic seafood needs, and diversifying income sources as well as supporting the economy of the Kingdom.
Aquaculture is defined as the farming of specific species of aquatic organisms (fish, crustaceans, shellfish, algae, etc.) in concrete tanks or floating cages under human control and controlled conditions and within certain areas.
Aquaculture occurs in inland (freshwater) areas by using aquaculture farms, and coastal (seawater) areas in floating cages.
Aquaculture in Saudi Arabia dates back to 1982 when international bodies made recommendations for studies on fish wealth in Saudi Arabia, as the first step for cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on establishing the Jeddah Fisheries Research Centre (JFRC). The aim was to make specific studies on the potential species suitable for fish farming in the Kingdom, as well as to introduce new aquaculture hatchery technologies, train qualified Saudi personnel, select sites suited for aquaculture and provide technical and advisory support to aquaculture farms.
Development and Achievements
Since then, the aquaculture sector has been developing, as its production has increased, and its exports has become one of the highest exports in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, making the Kingdom one of the world's leading white shrimp exporters with a production capacity of 60 thousand tons, 50 thousand of which exported to more than 32 countries the world in the year 2018.
The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture is committed to reach up to 100 thousand tons of fisheries products by 2020, and 600 thousand tons by 2030.
The Ministry of Environment, water, and Agriculture seeks to develop the aquaculture sector and compete globally; it is a promising economic sector that is supporting the national economy, and it is one of the fastest growing food sectors at a rate of 6% annually.
The Ministry also aims to achieve sustainable development and food security in the Kingdom, meet domestic seafood demand, develop coastal areas, minimize migration to big cities, and protect natural resources by reducing pressure on capture fisheries.
In addition, it aims to strengthen partnership with the private sector, attract local and foreign investment opportunities in aquaculture, feed production, and fish aquaculture products, in addition to creating up to 24 thousand job opportunities for Saudi youth, and reaching a Saudization rate of 50% in the sector.
Why Invest in Saudi Arabia’s Aquaculture Sector?
The aquaculture sector has a large potential for growth in the Kingdom by the fact that the kingdom is strategically located with 2,600 km coastline that is suitable for aquaculture development with a capacity of 5 million tons of fish, and it is a rich source of a wide range of fish and other marine species.
Also, The Kingdom is internationally recognized for the highest quality in line with international biosecurity standards; thus, it is committed to ensuring that all aquaculture facilities are BAP certified facilities.
Initiatives of the Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030
The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has launched 5 pioneering aquaculture initiatives which will Increase national output, support the local economy and achieve food security, within the framework of the initiatives of the National Industry Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP) recently launched by HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.
The first initiative of which is "Marketing Campaign" that aims to raise public awareness of locally produced fish showing its health benefits when compared to imported fish, and to promote fish consumption (9 kg -13 kg) in the Kingdom.
The second Initiative is "Investor Attraction Campaign" which is designed to increase investments in the aquaculture sector by attracting new local and foreign investors to fulfill the demand and increase fish consumption, that will contribute to improve the local production, increase exports and thus reduce imports, as well as reduce the cost of fish production.
Furthermore, the third initiative is "Development of Marine Clusters" which aims to construct fish landing sites, developing floating docks, ice factories, gas stations and boat maintenance workshops, provide integrated logistics services, as well as create an attractive environment for tourists.
The fourth initiative is the " Building Infrastructure to Support Aquaculture Sector" initiative which aims to establish hatcheries, feed mills and processing plants to produce 600,000 tons of fish by 2030, and to sustain the aquaculture industry and create employment opportunities, as well as attract foreign investment and reduce imports of production inputs of the aquaculture industry.
Finally, the fifth initiative of which is " Research and Development Support" that is designed to improve the productivity of aquaculture outputs in cooperation with well-known local and international research institutions, with the aim of introducing new species with a high economic impact to the Kingdom, developing feed systems, reducing the risk of fish disease and improving fish health, as well as establishing renowned research institutions that provide expertise and advisory, and contribute to the introduction of modern technologies in aquaculture.