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Qatar aims to increase offshore aquaculture production

Fish stocks Sea bass Climate change +5 more

Qatar plans to expand its fledgling aquaculture sector, to meet growing domestic demand for fresh fish at a time when wild fish stocks in its waters are under threat from climate change.

Qatar launched its first offshore aquaculture project in 2019. The Samkna fish farm, which was established 50 km offshore, harvested its first batch of fish in November 2020. It currently has the capacity to produce 2,000 tonnes of fish annually, but now intends to ramp this up, according to Reuters.

"We have started an expansion plan to double our production capacity to 4,000 tonnes. We are obtaining permits for the expansion and building new cages," Mahmoud Tahoun, operations and development director for marine aquaculture at Al-Qumra, told Reuters. "Five years from now, we expect to cover 60 percent of local demand."

Fish farm production is supposed to prevent the depletion of fish stocks in offshore waters, which have been affected by warming waters in the Gulf. However, Pedro Range, research assistant professor at Qatar University, told Reuters that if that the broader international problem of excessive production of greenhouse gases that create climate change is not tackled, then none of the local fish preservation efforts can be effective.

A University of British Columbia study in 2018 found that a third of marine species could become extinct in the Gulf by 2090, notes Reuters, because of rising water temperature, changing salinity and oxygen levels, and human activities such as overfishing.