FAO Home>Fisheries & Aquaculture
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsfor a world without hunger
  1. Characteristics, structure and resources of the sector
    1. Summary
    2. History and general overview
    3. Human resources
    4. Farming systems distribution and characteristics
    5. Cultured species
    6. Practices/systems of culture
  2. Sector performance
    1. Production
    2. Market and trade
    3. Contribution to the economy
  3. Promotion and management of the sector
    1. The institutional framework
    2. The governing regulations
    3. Applied research, education and training
  1. Trends, issues and development
    1. References
      1. Bibliography
      2. Related links
    Characteristics, structure and resources of the sector
    Aquaculture development is still incipient in the State of Kuwait although the commercial production of gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and sobaity seabream (Sparidentex hasta) if floating cages was started in 1997. Aquaculture activities are currently being 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. A potential new site for aquaculture has been identified at Al-Kiran area in the southern coast of Kuwait. Declaration of the site for aquaculture purpose is under way.

    Tilapia culture is carried out in agriculture farms in three areas throughout the country, namely Al-Abdaly, Al-Wafra and Al-Sulybia. Annual average production of tilapia has been recorded as 309 tonnes from the year 2005 to 2013.
    History and general overview
    Although options for aquaculture development through research have been explored since 1983 by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (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 a commercial private hatchery by the GIAC and the tilapia hatchery at Al-Wafra by the PAAFR are an indication of the growing potential for aquaculture production in Kuwait.
    Human resources
    In 2013, approximately 109 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 Fisheries and Mariculture Department of KISR are engaged in aquaculture research and development activities.
    Farming systems distribution and characteristics
    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 56 farms and the total volume of the concrete tanks is approximately 39 300 m3. Of the 56 farms, 37 are located in Al-Wafra, 17 in Al-Abdali and two in Al-Sulybia. 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.
    Cultured species
    Currently Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) is the only species used for aquaculture production in the State of Kuwait. The Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research commenced 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. Marine fish culture using cages is expected once the newly identified site is officially declared for the purpose.
    Practices/systems of culture
    Intensive tilapia culture system

    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 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 is presently considering dividing the farms into two categories: category "A farms" producing 6–10 kg/m3 and, category "B farms" producing below 3 kg/m3. The Government currently provides a subsidy to encourage greater productivity and this consists in a free annual allocation of fish feed: 2.7 kg/m2 of pond area for category "A farms" and, 1.35 kg/m2 for category "B farms". The subsidized feed meets 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.
    Sector performance
    Aquaculture is now reasonably well-established, as far as the farming of tilapia in association with agriculture, and marine fish culture using floating net cages 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 2005 to 2008 accounts to 327 tonnes.

    The Gulf International Aquaculture Company was established in 2003. It commercially produces fish fry, mostly seabream and, to a lesser extent, sobaity seabream. It purchases fertilized gilthead seabream eggs mainly from France.

    The total aquaculture production according to FAO Fishery Statistics data which has been reported from 1950, is as follows:

    Reported aquaculture production in Kuwait (from 1950)
    (FAO Fishery Statistic)

    Market and trade
    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 4.28–6.86/kg; this relates mainly to farm-gate purchases and sales to restaurants.
    Contribution to the economy
    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.
    Promotion and management of the sector
    The institutional framework
    Aquaculture activities are administered and promoted by the Aquaculture Division of the Fisheries Department of the PAAFR. The Fisheries Department regulates all aquaculture activities. This includes the identification of suitable fish and allocation of suitable sites to farmers, issuing licences and granting subsidies to farmers and the Bubiyan Fisheries Company. Furthermore, PAAFR adopts rules and regulations for aquaculture development in Kuwait.
    The governing regulations
    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 PAARF enacted a specific resolution No. 293 for aquaculture development in Kuwait, regarding the issuance of aquaculture licences 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:
    • The area of a single fish farm should not exceed 10 percent of the total agriculture farm land, and the area for the fish farm can not be less than 500 m2.
    • The fish farm owner should comply with the water quality criteria determined by the department concerned.
    • The farmer should have a sufficient source of underground water for fish culture and drained water should be used for agriculture purposes. It is prohibited to drain the fish farm water into low-lying land, public drainage pipes or re-pump the water to the well or transfer outside the agriculture farm.
    • Application forms for obtaining a licence must be submitted to the Agriculture Farm Department to assess feasibility. The land identified along with the plan details of the farm should be submitted to the Fisheries Department for verification and approval.
    • It is prohibited to introduce new species for culture without prior permission from the Fisheries Department.
    • It is prohibited to use any drug, hormone or feed additives without prior permission from the Fisheries Department.
    The farm owner should also observe the following conditions:
    • The fish tank should be made of concrete, cement or fibreglass.
    • Tanks should be constructed at or above ground level to facilitate water drainage.
    • Tank depth should not be less than 1 m.
    • The farmer must set up a water reservoir tank, air conditioned feed storeroom, electric generator room, drainage pipe system and greenhouse or shelter for the tanks.
    • The water storage tank should be up to 3 metres deep; each tank must be provided with a separate water inlet and outlet.
    • The farm owner should immediately report any sign of or outbreak of disease to the Fisheries Department.
    Applied research, education and training
    Research into aquaculture development mainly falls under the responsibility of the KISR. Applied aquaculture research projects, including selection of suitable species, growth studies and disease control are carried out by the Mariculture and Fisheries Department of KISR. 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 programmes 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 and capture production has shown a declining trend in recent years. Hence, aquaculture activities are gaining growing support from the Government. Cage aquaculture offers investment and employment opportunities in the future. Recent developments, including the establishment of a marine finfish hatchery facility by the "Gulf International Aquaculture Company" and the Government's tilapia hatchery at Al-Wafra, are potential indicators 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. Aquaculture production is expected to meet future demand for fish supplies in Kuwait.
    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.
    Related links
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