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The case for grouper aquaculture in the UAE

26 May 2020, at 11:55am

The introduction of grouper aquaculture in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) could be “economically sound, environmentally beneficial, and socially enhancing”.

So concludes a newly published study into the potential impacts of culturing orange-spotted grouper (Epinephelus coioides). One of the most popular fish species in the UAE, the paper notes, it “has been pushed to the brink of extinction” by overexploitation of wild stocks, making the case for developing an aquaculture sector for the species all the more relevant.

Orange-spotted grouper are a valuable and popular fish in the UAE
Orange-spotted grouper are a valuable and popular fish in the UAE

The author calculates that, under a business-as-usual scenario, “after internalizing environmental and social costs, the production cost of wild-caught grouper is estimated to increase by 4.8 percent, from $15.96 to $16.72 per kg.”

He adds that the same fish can be produced for as little as $4.65 per kg through aquaculture.

Moreover, the paper argues that “procuring fish from aquaculture can yield significant environmental benefits arising from reduced fish landings and the protection of marine habitats. It can also yield social benefits through the protection of fisheries jobs and the preservation of the cultural value of fishing in UAE society.”

They add that grouper aquaculture could create 3,933 jobs in the country.

Further information

The study was published in Marine Policy, under the title "Evaluating the potential economic, environmental, and social benefits of orange-spotted grouper aquaculture in the United Arab Emirates".