The Government of Saudi Arabia, assisted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, is engaged in the Fish Farming Centre Project (FI: UTFN/SAU/010/SAU), with its main activities directed to freshwater and marine aquaculture.
The Government has been exploring means of reducing the country's dependance on imported fish products and is assisting in the development of aquaculture as one of the sources for the supply of fish. The Third Five-year National Plan for Fisheries Development included the construction of the Fish Farming Centre (FFC) north of Jeddah to test various approaches to aquaculture.
The shallow lagoon at the Fish Farming Centre appeared to be suitable for fishpen industry development and along the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia there are numerous other shallow lagoons similar to the one near the FFC. These sites could be fully developed if the fishpen system of acquaculture proves technically and economically viable in the Red Sea. In this regard, assistance is needed in planning and installing pilot demonstration fishpens at the FFC shoreline lagoon.
FAO has been consulting with ORSTOM1 regarding assistance to the project in developing the fishpen system of aquaculture at the FFC and an agreement was reached to assist the Centre in construction/installation of a pilot fishpen module at the project site in Jeddah.
1 Office de la recherche scientifique et technique d'outre-mer, a French research institute for tropical areas.
As part of the operation of Fish Farming Centre Project, FAO assigned Saurin Hem, an ORSTOM scientist based in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to assist in the final preparation of a detailed plan for the design and construction of pilot experimental fishpen module at the project site with the following terms of reference:
In close colaboration with project personnel,
Select suitable sites for the establishment of two fishpens.
Make a detailed survey of these selected sites.
On this basis, prepare detailed plans for the construction of the fishpens, including a list of the necessary equipment, suggested suppliers, and estimates of cost.
The terms of reference can be divided into two broad categories:
Feasibility of fishpen culture industry along the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia.
Actual construction demonstration of installing fishpen modules to be operated for the project's culture experiments.
The chronology of the consultant and the list of persons met during the course of the assignment are given in Appendix 1 and 2, respectively.
On 2 December 1984 the consultant travelled to FAO Headquarters, Rome, for briefing and arrived on 7 December 1984 in Jeddah. During the following week, the site for fishpen construction was inspected, the proposal for the modules was discussed with the project staff members and cost estimates of locally available materials and supplies from the different suppliers in Jeddah were obtained.
While in Jeddah, a lecture/slide presentation was given to the project staff describing fishpen culture activities at the Experimental Farm in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, which allowed the exchange of ideas on the pros and cons of fishpen culture techniques to be implemented at the selected FFC site. Current prices of fish in the Jeddah markets, particularly for selected culture species (siganid, mullet, tilapia, etc.) were also obtained with the able assistance and guidance of the local counterpart staff of the project.
A preliminary survey of the fishpen site selected was conducted together with the counterpart staff and it was finally agreed to set up a two-unit 50 × 25 m modules for experimental demonstration purposes of the project. The whole area of the lagoon at the shoreline of the project site was explored for full utilization as semicommercial size fishpen units. It was found out that areas ranging from 1 to 2 m deep are suitable for fishpen operation. See Fig. 2.