Two important questions were answered during the consultant's assignment. However, partially because of the lack of experience in full sea strength water and the absence of prior projects in the Red Sea, several questions will take up to several years to answer.
Can enclosures be built here? The answer is a definite “yes”. It was relatively easy to place poles in the sand. Likewise, the net anchors of the small construction/demonstration pen were easily buried in the sand. The small construction/demonstration pen of 20 m long was constructed in about three hours. Of course, this does not include the time spent in constructing the poles and anchors.
How easy are the pens to construct? A skilled and experienced construction supervisor is necessary. However, the labourers do not have to have special skills or experience.
How bad will fouling by marine organisms be? Fouling of course will occur. The big questions is will it be at a tolerable level or will it cause big problems? It will take about a half year or more to determine the answer. A part of the test should be a comparison of treated versus untreated nets.
Will bird predation be a major problem? Again, about six months will be required to obtain the answer.
How long will the nets last? At the Ivory Coast project nets lasted up to five or six years. They will probably not last that long here. It could take several years to answer this question.
What is the value of an outside barrier net? Answering this question would take about one year to determine. This would start after the proper location and construction of a third pen occurs. In considering this question please note that the construction of an outside barrier net will increase the construction and maintenance costs by about one half.
How valuable will natural food be to the growth and health of the fish? It would require a test lasting about six months to determine the answer.
What fish can be successfully cultured in the fish pens? If several species are quickly tried it would take about two years to determine the answer. Polyculture could shorten the time needed to about one or one and a half years.
It should be noted that not all of the above tests can be done at the same time. Thus the answers to all questions asked above could take four or five years.