BIG CATCH

The UAE’s first sal­mon farm

Gulf Business - - FRONT PAGE - TEXT BY NEIL CHURCHILL

ASMAK, AN ABU DHABI FISH

farm­ing com­pany, plans to bring a new home-reared species to UAE din­ner plates in 2014 with the launch of the Mid­dle East’s first sal­mon farm.

In a re­gion where the grouper breed ham­mour is the most recog­nis­able lo­cal fish on restau­rant menus, the new project will of­fer lo­cal sal­mon and other species of fish promis­ing to en­sure a steady sup­ply to the MENA re­gion to com­pet­i­tively com­pete with cur­rent im­ports. Based in the western re­gion of the Abu Dhabi emi­rate, the Dhs100 mil­lion project will be a unique propo­si­tion for the Gulf. “The com­pany is work­ing on de­vel­op­ing projects to fur­ther as­sist the Abu Dhabi govern­ment im­prove food se­cu­rity as well as fo­cus on farm­ing pop­u­lar and high rev­enue fish species,” said Tamer Yousef, mar­ket­ing man­ager of Asmak. Asmak’s plans are to build two projects: a land based re­cir­cu­la­tion aqua­cul­ture sys­tem (RSA) farm in­clud­ing a clus­ter for small fish farm­ers and an off­shore sea cages farm in Dalma Is­land. The land based RSA farm will cover an area of 500,000 square me­tres and pro­duce 4,000 met­ric tonnes of fish a year in­clud­ing sal­mon, seabream, baru­mundi and sub­aiti. The process works by chill­ing seawa­ter be­fore re-us­ing it. The project will be a chal­leng­ing one for Asmak given the re­gion’s cli­mate. The Abu Dhabi com­pany plans to use Scan­di­na­vian tech­nol­ogy to keep the sal­mon pools chilled at 13 de­grees Cel­sius – a pos­i­tively arc­tic tem­per­a­ture com­pared to the lo­cal sea­wa­ters in the Ara­bian Gulf which can touch 40 de­grees in sum­mer.

Whereas tra­di­tional fish farm­ing oc­curs off­shore, the new on­shore method has been suc­cess­ful in Europe and North Amer­ica de­spite its greater ex­pense. Fish are less likely to be harmed due to the zero chance of dis­ease spread­ing into the sea or of farmed fish es­cap­ing into the wild. Asmak said its team of lo­cal farm­ers would be con­stantly up­dated on in­ter­na­tional prac­tices by vis­it­ing ex­perts from Nor­way and Ire­land – the two coun­tries the emi­rate cur­rently sources most of its sal­mon from.

The pink fish is cur­rently flown into the UAE, chilled at tem­per­a­tures be­low freez­ing, at a cost of around $4-$5 per kilo­gram.

“ASMAK’S PLANS ARE TO BUILD TWO PROJECTS: A LAND BASED RE­CIR­CU­LA­TION AQUA­CUL­TURE SYS­TEM (RSA) FARM IN­CLUD­ING A CLUS­TER FOR SMALL FISH FARM­ERS AND AN OFF­SHORE SEA CAGES FARM IN DALMA IS­LAND.”

The project will also in­clude a small fish-farm­ing clus­ter com­pris­ing of 50 farms to an­nu­ally pro­duce 100 met­ric tonnes of seabream as well as some en­dan­gered species. As well as the land-based farm, Asmak is also plan­ning to de­velop an off­shore sea cages farm in Dalma Is­land con­sist­ing of 50 cages cov­er­ing an ar­eas of 250,000 square me­tres. The off­shore de­vel­op­ment will pro­duce ham­mour, sub­aiti and seabream. The farm will also host a pro­cess­ing plant with a pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity of 800-1,000 met­ric tonnes per an­num, guar­an­tee­ing around 20 jobs.

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