A large fishing farm, arguably the first commercial aquaculture facility in the country, has come up with a novel idea to sell its produce — customers can visit the farm and catch their own fish and pay on a piecemeal basis, not by kilogramme.
If you catch just one fish, you pay for one, said the owner of the farm which is located in Al Jamiliya, close to Al Shahaniya, some 40km north of Doha, and produces roughly 25 tonnes of fish a year.
The farm that seeks in its own way to reduce near-total reliance of Qatar’s fishing industry on catches from the sea is spread over 50 acres. Its owner says state support is needed to raise the production capacity.
“We breed several species of fish, including Al Balti, Al Bayah, Al Buri, Al Basit and Al Safi, among others,” said Mubarak Rashid Al Naimi. “We need at least five aquaculture facilities to meet the growing demand for seafood in the country in a bid to support the state food security programme but without government support we cannot survive.”
The other challenge that faces the aquaculture business here is that you need experts to set up farms and there is a severe shortage of fish feed, Al Naimi told local Arabic daily Al Raya in an interview published yesterday.
There is a shortage of fish feed locally and it needs to be imported from Saudi Arabia.
The authorities should allot more land for fish farming and provide facilities such as help in recruiting aquaculture experts and skilled workforce to breed fish on the farms, said Al Naimi.
“I don’t think there are other fish farms like that of mine in the country but some people have small farms for their personal use,”
“A lot of people are keen to enter the aquaculture business and some ask me about my project. So, I am sure financial support from the government will help boost this business.”
“We have a unique offer for customers in a bid to provide them fresh fish. They can catch fish directly and get whatever fish they want from the farm. The charges are levied per piece and not by kilogrammes, said Al Naimi.
The offer was initially for school students who could catch fish from the farm free, but later it was extended to others for commercial purposes.
Most customers are Egyptians and Syrians, said Al Naimi, and their favourite fish is Al Balti that is easier to breed compared to other fish like Al Bayah and Al Buri.
“We import larva and juvenile fish from hatcheries in Egypt and Bahrain to breed in my farm. We produce only four species of fish for commercial purpose but we breed more fish species as well as prawns. We have started it recently and the experiment has been encouraging.” The farm may, thus, soon begin commercial production of these species, the farm owner said.
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