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Kuwait eyes fish self-sufficiency to narrow supply-demand gap

KUWAIT, July 31 (KUNA) -- The Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAF) seeks to achieve self-sufficiency of locally-consumed fish as part of its ambitious strategy aimed at narrowing the gap between supply and demand.
The strategy tends to expand and enhance several operations and projects such as fish farming, natural fish reserve in territorial waters, all listed in the 2018-19 development plan.
For the past 10 years, PAAF has accomplished a very notable development in all its sectors, particularly in expanding arable lands, bolstering livestock production, and launching projects to enrich natural fish reserve in territorial waters, Ghanim Al-Sanad, PAAF's Deputy Director General for Ornamental Horticulture Affairs told KUNA.
Recent statistics showed that Kuwait's fish and prawn production during the 2015-16 period was estimated at between 4,000 to 6,000 tons annually, boosting fish farming production to between 300 and 600 tons, Al-Sanad noted.
For his part, Youssef Al-Najem, PAAF's Deputy Director General for Fish Resources Affairs, shed light on current gap between supply and demand of fish and local production, noting that the current total demand of fish and prawn surpasses local production, and that the available fish resources shape up between 33-49 percent of total local consumption.
One individual's average share of total consumption estimates at around five kg a year, which is very low compared to the international average share, estimated at around 18.6 kg a year, said Al-Najem.
Fish farming could fill 50 percent of fresh fish deficit by the year 2025 if the Authority completes implementation of all its planned projects, he said, noting that PAAF focuses on activating and re-boosting fish farming in Kuwait.
The Authority also plans to build the National Hatchery (2008) in Wafra area to support fish farms authorized in breeding Tilapia fish with a production capacity of 80,000-90,000 annually.
It also seeks to provide fish feed to farms that breed black seabream and yellowfin bream fish, organize annual training courses for citizens, and offer scientific and technical consultations to fish farmers, Al-Najem said.
Meanwhile, Salem Al-Hai, Head of Fish Farming Department at PAAF, affirmed that fish farming would be the ideal option for beating the current fish deficit in Kuwait, pointing out its capability in narrowing the gap between supply and demand, and in producing 4,000 tons of popular fish for the next 10 years.
The government is currently heading towards encouraging fish farming in the county, giving PAAF a bigger motivation to accomplish that goal, Al-Hai mentioned.
He added that the Authority has developed a carefully studied strategy that include a number of future projects aimed at providing consumers in Kuwait with sufficient quantities of fish and limiting price increases in markets.
The economic fish farming project, listed in the government's 2018-19 development plan, is geared towards enhancing methods and ways of fish production, increasing production quantities, and improving the quality of farmed fish, he said.
A number of current fish farms are to be selected, in accordance with the quality levels of their construction, design, and fish farming techniques, for the project implementation, he added.
This project aims at attaining an annual production of 10 to 15 tons of fish for each farm, training around 10 of PAAF's staff on modern techniques of fish farming, enhancing techniques and systems of the integrated fish farming in arable lands, guiding fish farmers to methods and ways of intensified fish farming, and promoting fish farming techniques to increase production in farms, said Al-Hai.
Enriching natural fish reserve in territorial waters project aims at producing and releasing 1.3 million juvenile fish of three types; spotted grouper, black seabream, and yellowfin bream into Kuwaiti waters after conducting an accurate survey on the sites where the fish to be released, said Al-Najem.
About 25 percent of these seasonal juveniles will be colored with fluorescent elastomer in order to follow them and evaluate the outcome of their release, and thus rehabilitate fish reserve after two years from the release, he added.
The three-year project's budget is about KD 1.6 million, equaling USD 4.8 million, Al-Najem said, adding that the project includes 13 tasks divided into two main activities; producing and releasing juvenile fish.
He also pointed out the project's significance as a main core for rehabilitating fish reserves in Kuwait after suffering severe drainage due to illegal fishing and environmental changes.
Al-Najem also noted that such a program would contribute highly in narrowing the gap between supply and demand of fish, decreasing prices, and providing consumers with sea products in sufficient quantities and appropriate prices.
Furthermore, PAAF also plans to launch another important project aimed at farming sea fish in floating cages in Khairan area in southern Kuwait, Al-Najem added.
The floating cages are to be set on a 10,000 square meter-sized area in the waters, in addition to another 20,200 square meter-sized area for building a fish hatchery, and 5,000 square meter area to build a supervision and following unit for the floating cages, he explained.
The PAAF official also forecasted the production capacity for the project to reach over 10,000 tons of fish annually by 2040, compared to the current 2,000 tons.
The project would breed fish inside floating cages, and that the production's main targets of fish are spotted grouper, black seabream, yellowfin bream fish, and European black seabream, he noted.
Al-Najem also mentioned the Authority's "promising" prawn farming project in Subiya area, which is geared towards constructing an eight-kilometer square-sized farm on the coast of Subiya bay to produce 2,000 tons annually of farmed prawn.
PAAF has commissioned Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) to study the project and list all requirements for allocating the farming site in Subiya area, he noted, adding that the project is currently at the Municipality Council's possession to allocate the site. (end) mf.ma