The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water has agreed to work with the Masdar Institute on its Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (Seas) pilot project, which was launched in June last year. The ministry will help the Masdar Institute and its partners to develop an aquaculture industry, as well as helping to preserve the environment.
Fuel and fish
The Seas project plans to create sea-water aquaculture facilities for shrimp and fish, and then use the waste and by-products from the animals as fertiliser for mangrove swamps. Plants from the swamps will then be processed to produce jet fuel, which will be used by Abu Dhabi airline Etihad Airways.
Under the new agreement, the Ministry of Environment and Water will supply the Seas project with fish fingerlings and mangrove seedlings, as well as technical expertise. The ministry could also become part of the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) which is behind the project, and currently includes the Masdar Institute, Etihad, Boeing, Takreer, GE and Safran.
No environmental impact
“The project will provide seafood, biomass for energy, and enrich mangrove forests, without negatively impacting freshwater supplies. We believe the agreement with the ministry will ensure the protection of the UAE’s marine ecosystems in balance with the development of its aquaculture industry,” said Behjat Al Yousuf, interim provost at the Masdar Institute.
“The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water’s commitment to the SBRC’s pilot farm project reflects their endorsement of this major initiative. With global leaders in energy and technology as its partners, the SBRC stands as a major testimony to Masdar Institute’s role in seeking sustainable solutions to global challenges,” he added.
Jasem Ali Al Sayegh, CEO of Takreer, said: “The Ministry of Environment and Water will definitely boost SBRC’s integrated seawater bioenergy pilot project. We welcome the Ministry on board and hope that together we will help the aviation industry in the UAE to meet the growing demand for jet fuel in an innovative and sustainable manner.”
Aquaculture is increasingly important to the Middle East, as wild fish stocks fall from over-fishing and populations continue to rise. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman have all said they will invest heavily in aquaculture projects, while some such as sturgeon farm Emirates Aquatech and Oman’s Almouj Marina are already up and running.