Qatar’s environment ministry has launched an initiative that aims to produce over 600 tonnes of tilapia fish annually in a mass fish farming project.
More than 600 tonnes of tilapia fish are expected to be produced as part of a Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) project.
The National Initiative for Farming Tilapia Fish is being launched with the support of registered agricultural farms in Qatar, the ministry announced at a press conference at the headquarters of Fisheries and Agricultural Sector on Tuesday.
Fish farming projects are set up in free spaces of agricultural farms to utilise nutrient rich water from fish farms for vegetable plants to produce high economic value organic produce.
The National Initiative for Farming Tilapia Fish will provide additional income to farmers and diversify the production of fish that contributes to the strengthening of food security in the country.
“Under the initiative two licences will be issued to establish two projects for farming tilapia fish in registered agricultural farms with the capacity of about 310 tonnes of fish in a year from each project,” said Head of Fish Farming Section at Fish Affairs Department at MME, Mohamad Mahmoud Al Abdullah.
Al Abdullah also said that the initiative will cover 25 percent share of imported tilapia fish in local markets.
“Tilapia fish is one of the highest demand of fish in the country with high economic value. We import about 2,000 tonnes in a year. The initiative aims at increasing the revenue of agricultural farms and diversifying the production of fish,” said Al Abdullah.
The fish is popular among many expatriate communities from countries along the Mediterranean Sea or East Asia.
“Following the State’s strategy, three projects have been licensed for farming fish in sea water. One of them has been licensed recently. The second project is to farm prawn which is yet to start. The third project is to farm fish in fresh water,” added Al Abdullah.
Future projects will also receive support if needed. Qatar Development Bank has offered to fund projects under certain rules and regulations. The Agricultural Sector at MME will provide technical support and necessary guidance.
Last November, Qatar launched Samakna, the region’s first offshore aquaculture project in Qatar’s open water, which uses floating-cage technology.
Under Al Qamra holding, Qatar’s leading business conglomerate, Samkna is located 50 km (30 miles) offshore from Qatar’s Ruwais region and produces 2,000 tonnes of fish annually.
The fish farm has a total marine site area of 900 thousand square meters, including 16 floating cages.
Samkna has also built a factory spanning an area of 10,000 square meters in Ruwais, close to the fish farm, which handles the final production stages, including packaging and wrapping.
According to Qatar’s 2018-2023 National Food Security Strategy, fish farming is one of the key priorities to ensure domestic self-sufficiency in times of crisis.