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Aquaculture compensating for fish shortage
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 15 - 01 - 2013

Local fish production has hit about 1.4 million tonnes a year, most of it from aquaculture, the major source of fish in Egypt, a country that ranks eighth in world in terms of fish production.
The development and expansion of modern aquaculture began in Egypt 20 years ago. In the past few years, this sector has grown rapidly, leading to a rise in fish production.
"We need to put more effort into this sector, as there are about 13 million acres of water, in the form of lakes and other water sources, that are not adequately exploited for fishing," says Khaled el-Hosni, Chairman of the General Authority for Fish Resources Development (GAFRD).
He adds that the fish, caught in the Mediterranean and the Red Seas are very few compared to those caught in rivers, lakes and canals.
Mediterranean countries such as Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia catch the largest amount of fish, while Egypt is allowed to fish within its territorial waters, that extend 12 miles from the country's coastline, he explained.
But despite the challenges, el-Hosni said that there are mechanisms for increasing fish yields.
"Modern marine fish hatcheries and cages can be constructed in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean to compensate for the shortage of fish," he told The Egyptian Gazette in an exclusive interview, adding that the GAFRD has decided to put an end to the contamination of lakes with sewage and industrial waste.
Most aquaculture activities are to be found in the Nile Delta region. Aquaculture is practised using a variety of systems with varying levels of technology. So far the majority of farmed fish are either freshwater species or those that can grow in brackish water.
The production of fish and crustaceans in marine or brackish water is still low on our water bodies that cover about 13 million acres, due to technical and economic problems.
Most fish farms in Egypt can be classified as semi-intensive brackish water pond farms; there were few in the early 1990s, because of the competition for land and water in the wake of the expansion of land reclamation for agriculture.
Intensive aquaculture is now developing rapidly to counteract the reduction in the total area available for aquaculture activity, allowing for fish yields of up to 50 tonnes per acre every season.
"Current developments in production are centred on the application of modern technologies and are a result of changes in the structure of the fish farming community," he stressed. El-Hosni, the newly appointed Chairman of the GAFRD, is very ambitious to increase the production of fish within the new mechanism.
"There is a project funded by Finland, for the first time, to deepen northern lakes such as Manzala, Borolus, Edco and Mariout in order to increase the number of fry. There are schemes that will cost LE13 million to boost production by 100,000 tonnes per year," he continued.
The high rate of return on investments in aquaculture has attracted a large number of small- to middle-level investors who tend to have a more scientific background than the traditional farmers.
The number of fish hatcheries has increased to 300, while nearly 20 fish feed manufacturing companies have been established over the past decade.
El-Hosni told this paper that the GAFRD is planning to invest in the middle of Sinai, using underground water to establish intensive aquaculture. This project will contribute to the 'Development Project' in Sinai, recently announced by the Government.
The Government will start the project this year, in collaboration with the Sinai Development Authority. LE10 million has already been allocated to this project, with additional investments planned, according to a governmental statement.
"This scheme will also help create new jobs for young people," he concluded.

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