Replaces: Arabic version (2006), Spanish version (2006), French version (2006), Chinese version (2006)
Aquaculture development is still incipient in the State of Kuwait although the commercial production of gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and Sobaity seabream (Sparidentex hasta) in floating cages in Kuwait bay was started in 1997. Aquaculture activities are expanded in order to supplement local landings from capture fisheries. Only Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) culture in concrete tanks using brackish water on agricultural farms is carried out since 2009 and there in no culture of marine fishes using cage culture. Two potential new sites for aquaculture has been identified one at Al-Kiran area in the southern coast of Kuwait for floating cage farming and anther at the AL- Sabiyah area in the southern bank of Khor Al-Sabiyah for shrimp farming. Declaration of these sites for aquaculture purpose is under way.
Integrated Tilapia culture is carried out in agriculture farms in three areas in Kuwait, namely Al-Abdaly, Al-Wafra and Al-Sulybia. Annual average production of tilapia has been recorded as 273 tonnes from the year 2000 to 2014.
Although options for aquaculture development have been explored through research since 1983 by the KISR, aquaculture activities gained momentum in 1990 through the concerted efforts of the Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAFR). In 1992, the Bubiyan Fisheries Company began commercial production of gilthead seabream and sobaity in floating cages in Kuwait Bay. Aquaculture of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) began in 1997 as an integral part of agriculture using brackish water. The establishment of an experimental marine fish hatchery by KISR and the tilapia hatchery at Al-Wafra by the PAAFR are an indication of the growing potential for aquaculture production in Kuwait.
In 2014, about 110 workers were engaged in aquaculture activities in Kuwait. The technical staff of the aquaculture division in the Fisheries Department of PAAFR administers aquaculture activities. Researchers of the aquaculture program at The Environment and Life Sciences Research Center in KISR are engaged in aquaculture research and development activities.
Integrated Tilapia culture in agriculture farms
Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) culture is carried out in agriculture farms where crops such as alfa alfa (Medicago sativa), tomatoes, potatoes, onions, etc., are cultivated. The farms are located in the Al-Wafra, Al-Abdaly and Al-Sulybia areas. Concrete tanks are used for tilapia culture. The size of the tanks ranges from few m2 to hundreds of m2 with depths of 1 to 2 m. Most of the tanks are built above ground level to facilitate bottom drainage. Culture is carried out using brackish water with a salinity of 5–8 ppt pumped from underground wells. Each farm has a water reservoir tank. The drained water is used for the irrigation of alfa alfa and other crops. In some farms greenhouse shelters are used to cover the tanks.
The stocking rates vary between ten and 50 fingerlings/m3. Fish attain a marketable size of 350–400 g within six to eight months. Pelleted fish feed is partially supplied by the PAAFR on a subsidy basis. Tilapia culture is carried out on licened agriculture farms and the total volume of the concrete tanks is approximately 53 000 m3. Annual average production of tilapia from these farms is recorded as 309 tonnes from the year 2005 to 2013. Tilapia species were initially imported from Kenya for aquaculture experimental trials. Tilapia is currently cultured on a commercial-scale. The PAAFR has established a new hatchery at Al-Wafra which supplies tilapia fingerlings to the farmers.
Currently, Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) is the only species used for aquaculture production in the State of Kuwait. The Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research started tilapia culture in 1983 on an experimental basis, after the Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources began integrating tilapia culture with alfa alfa in agriculture forms. Commercial production of tilapia began in 1997 and the production is continuing. Gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata), Sobaity seabream (Sparidentex hasta) and European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax),were commercially produced until 2008 by the Bubiyan Fisheries Company and now the aquaculture activities using marine cages are halted. A new aquaculture site has been identified in the Al-Kiran area of southern coast of Kuwait. Marine fish culture using cages is expected once the newly identified site is officially declared for the purpose.
Tilapia culture is carried out integrated with agriculture farms using concrete tanks. Brackish water from wells is pumped into the tanks with frequent water exchange. Artificial feed is used and production is in the region of 5-10 kg/m3. The PAAFR allocates agricultural land to interested farmers. The 25-year land lease is renewable and farmers pay a fee of 150 files/m2 to the Government (1 000 files = 1 Kuwait Dinar = 3.44 USD). The Government currently provides a subsidy to encourage greater productivity and this consists in a free annual allocation of fish feed (32 percent protein): 2.7 kg/m2 of pond area. The subsidized feed meets nearly 50 percent of the farmers' requirements. The remainder is imported. Fish feed is purchased in 25 kg bags, costing the Government USD 0.96/kg. The farmers spend as much as USD 1.37/kg for their additional feed requirements. The feed conversion rate in the category "A farms" is approximately 2:1.
Aquaculture is now reasonably well-established, as far as the farming of tilapia in association with agriculture is concerned. Kuwait aquaculture is economically viable, although fish mortalities in cages during 1999 and 2001 became a serious setback. The annual average production of tilapia from 2000 to 2014 accounts to 273 tonnes.
The total aquaculture production according to FAO Fishery Statistics data which has been reported from 1950, is as follows:
Due to limited production, there is no specific market system for aquaculture products in Kuwait. However, high quality farmed fresh tilapia is sold at USD 5.16-6.88/kg; this relates mainly to farm-gate purchases and sales to restaurants.
Compared to the oil industry in Kuwait, the economic contribution of the fishery and aquaculture industry is very limited. However, as a traditional sector, Kuwait fishery resources supply fresh fish and offer investment opportunities for Kuwait's private sector. The contribution of aquaculture to the national economy is almost insignificant. Aquaculture activities have gained importance in recent years due to technological farming developments, as well as, hatchery systems. The PAAFR has been encouraging aquaculture activities as a matter of priority and production is expected to meet future local demand for fish.
Aquaculture activities are administered and promoted by the Aquaculture division of the Fisheries Resources Department of the PAAFR. The Fisheries Resources Department regulates all aquaculture activities. This includes the identification of suitable fish and allocation of suitable sites to farmers, issuing licenses and granting subsidies to farmers. Furthermore, PAAFR adopts rules and regulations for aquaculture development in Kuwait.
The Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAFR) is the responsible authority for regulating Aquaculture activities in Kuwait. The overall fisheries activities in the State of Kuwait are administered under the law No. 46 established in 1980. In 2005, the PAAFR enacted a specific resolution No. 293 for aquaculture development in Kuwait, regarding the issuance of aquaculture licenses further enabling tilapia and other fish culture to develop. However, the resolution mainly aims at regulating land-based aquaculture activities. Furthermore, the following regulatory measures have been adopted under the resolution for aquaculture activities in Kuwait:
Research into aquaculture development mainly carried out by the KISR. The aquaculture program at The Environment and Life Sciences Research Center in KISR carries out applied aquaculture research projects, including selection of suitable species, growth studies and disease control. These projects are financially supported by the PAAFR, along with other funding agencies.
The Zoology Department of the Kuwait University teaches fisheries science as an optional subject at the undergraduate level. Kuwaiti graduates are encouraged to pursue higher studies at reputable institutions in foreign countries. PAAFR also arranges training programs and offers technical guidance on fisheries and aquaculture to all stakeholders in association with international organizations and expertise.
Trends, issues and development Aquaculture production represents a wide scope for future development in Kuwait. The country's natural fish stocks are under pressure due to overfishing natural and anthropogenic stresses. Hence, aquaculture activities are gaining growing support from the Government. Cage aquaculture offers investment and employment opportunities in the future. Establishment of tilapia hatchery at Al-Wafra, is the potential indicator for future development of aquaculture production in Kuwait. A new site has also been identified on the southern coast of Kuwait where the "Bubiyan Fishing Company" and other companies are likely to establish cages for large-scale marine finfish production.
Recently PAAFR had prepared a strategic framework for aquaculture development in Kuwait, Both inland and coastal aquaculture are supported in the strategy. A two-pronged approach to brackish-water aquaculture development is proposed :( 1) advancing integrated agriculture-aquaculture systems and (2) recirculating aquaculture system (RAS). For marine aquaculture, floating cage farming and shrimp farming were identified.
FAO. 2014. Aquaculture production. Year book of Fishery Statistics - 2012. Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.
Al-Yamani, F., Bishop, J., Ramadhan, E., Al-Husaini, M. & Al-Ghadban, A.N. 2004. Oceanographic Atlas of Kuwait waters. KISR Publication, 203 pp.
Lee, J.W., Farmer, A.S.D. & Al-Bakri, D.H. 1983. A preliminary study on the feasibility of establishing a fish farm at Khor Al-Sabiyah. Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Report No. KISR–RFP–41, Kuwait.
Statistical Bulletins for 2000 to 2008. Central Statistical Office, Ministry of Planning, State of Kuwait.