Saudi Arabia aims to increase seafood output in 2024 to meet increasing domestic demand

Renderings of the aquaculture-focused OXAGON project in the futuristic city of NEOM
Saudi Arabia plans to build a futuristic city called NEOM that aims to feature an aquaculture-focused project called the OXAGON on the Red Sea | Image courtesy of NEOM
2 Min

Saudi Arabia’s fisheries department wants to increase fish output in the Middle Eastern country to 230,000 metric tons (MT) in 2024, aiming to bridge the huge gap between the country’s current supply and its demand with more domestic production.

According to Hussein Al-Nazari, the head of Saudi Arabia’s fisheries department, fish production in the country has been on the rise, jumping 80 percent year over year in 2023 to 214,600 MT – up from 119,000 MT the previous year.

Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia’s fish consumption continues to outstrip the country’s production, forcing the country to heavily rely on seafood imports to plug the deficit.

Three years ago, the gap between domestic seafood output and demand was even greater, with production at 99,000 MT while consumption reached 250,000 MT in 2021.

Al-Nazari said one of the initiatives to spur growth, led by the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture – under which the fisheries department falls – is to fast-track the development of 16 fishing ports along Saudi Arabia’s coastal areas, which border both the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea and comprise catch of European sea bream, barramundi, sea bass, and more.

This, according to Al-Nazari, should help support the country’s marine fish production, which has been the main source of seafood output in the country.

The fishing ports along Saudi Arabia’s 2,500 kilometers of coastline aim to target fishing hubs that account for the highest share of the country’s total fish production.

To make the goal a reality, the government has turned toward private-sector investment to “serve, help and guide fishermen, as well as providing reliable forecasts about sea condition, waves level, wind speed and other information of interest to fishermen,” the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture said.

Aiming to entice these investors, the Saudi Arabian government is offering incentives, such as providing 75 percent of a fisheries project’s capital expenditures. The government is also offering direct financial support and interest-free loans to individuals and firms willing to invest in fish production, as well as discounts on the purchase of fishing production equipment.

In the short term, Al-Nazari said Saudi Arabia’s objective is to inch closer toward self-sufficiency in seafood supply, which will also include some priority placed on fish farming – in particular, high-yield fish breeds.

Aquaculture is also a focus of the futuristic city of NEOM that Saudi Arabia is aiming to build in western Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea. Preliminary plans for the city include an aquaculture-focused project called the OXAGON that aims to produce more than 50,000 MT of fish a year through a mix of indoor and outdoor RAS ponds.

SeafoodSource Premium

Become a Premium member to unlock the rest of this article.

Continue reading ›

Already a member? Log in ›


Want seafood news sent to your inbox?

You may unsubscribe from our mailing list at any time. Diversified Communications | 121 Free Street, Portland, ME 04101 | +1 207-842-5500
Secondary Featured Article