At SEG, Saudi Arabia touts USD 347 million fund for aquaculture development

Following up with a recently-announced plan to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into innovation and expansion of its aquaculture sector, representatives of Saudi Arabia’s government are at Seafood Expo Global this week to seek out potential investors.

In April, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture announced it will invest SAR 1.3 billion (USD 347 million, EUR 309.8 million) into aquaculture projects, according to Arab News. The news site also reported a plan by Saudi Arabia’s Agricultural Development Fund (ADF) to fund 70 percent of the total cost of new aquaculture projects that gain support through the government’s Fish Farming Support Program.

Abdullah Mesaed Abalkhail, the communications director for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, told SeafoodSource the ministry decided to exhibit at Seafood Expo Global for the first time this year in order to seek out investors in the country’s aquaculture sector.

As a central goal of the country’s National Fisheries Development Program, part of its Vision 2030 plan for sustainable development, Saudi Arabia is looking to establish strategic food reserves, with aquaculture serving as a central pillar of that plan. The program calls for expanding Saudi Arabia’s aquaculture sector to 600,000 metric tons of production by 2030, up from 77,000 metric tons in 2018. To do so, the government has initiated its new investment program, along with streamlined rules on environmental monitoring, to encourage growth.

“In Saudi Arabia, you will find great opportunities to start an aquaculture operation,” he said.

Abalkhail said due to its large oil reserves, the country’s fisheries and aquaculture sector have historically been underdeveloped. But the conditions in Saudi Arabia are prime for an expansion of a variety of aquaculture operations, from net-pen farming to recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS), he said.

“We have a long coastline, pristine water, suitable cage depth and low wave heights,” Abalkhail said. “When it comes to aquaculture, we believe we are one of best countries in world for investing.”

Specifically, the ministry is seeking out aquaculture projects focusing on sea bream, sea bass, tilapia, white shrimp, and meagre. 

“We are inviting and welcoming foreign investment in Saudi Arabia,” Abalkhail said. “To us aquaculture is a promising initiative and one that we would like to encourage.”


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