The kingdom’s ministry has received a large number of aquaculture project proposals since the start of the year, according to the undersecretary for fish resources, Jaber Mohammed Al-Shehri, quoted in Arabic daily paper Aleqtisadiah. He said the ministry expected to see around US$8bn of aquaculture investment in the next 15 years.
Al-Shehri said the kingdom was planning to focus on domestic aquaculture investments, instead of investing in international projects. He also commented on the potential for Saudi Arabia’s aquaculture production to rise, saying it could reach 100,000 to 150,000 tonnes a year in the coming years.
This is in contrast to the Saudi government’s previous statements about the country’s aquaculture industry, which listed current production levels at around 100,000 tonnes, as well as the UN FAO, which said aquaculture production for 2014 was around 23,000 tonnes.
Last year Saudi Arabia announced it would invest US$10bn in aquaculture projects by 2029, with the aim of increasing farmed fish production to 1m tonnes a year, up from the stated 100,000 tonnes.
Shrimp prices up 50%
Kuwait’s ongoing fish price rises illustrate the potential market for increased aquaculture production – the price of shrimp in the country rose 50%, going from almost US$200 a basket at the start of the season, to just under US$300 a basket last month. The country’s shrimping season starts in August and ends on 15 January, during which time shrimp must be imported from markets such as Saudi Arabia, as well as India and Iran.
Shrimp vendors blamed low supply and high demand, particularly from hotels and restaurants.
The row over shrimp prices comes just months after steep price rises for other seafood resulted in a consumer boycott of fish. The issue became political, after a Kuwaiti member of parliament asked a parliamentary question about the price rises, and what the government was proposing to do.
One proposal to the latest shrimp-related crisis is to limit participation in daily seafood auctions to Kuwaiti citizens, put forward by Faisal Al-Hasawi, the deputy director general for fish resources at the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources. Another proposal would effectively introduce rationing, with Kuwaitis being given a specific allocation of fish.