|Characteristics, structure and resources of the sector|
Aquaculture in Qatar is in its early stages. However since 1988, significant efforts to develop the sector have been made. There are a few fish ponds in the private sector using extensive and semi-intensive culture systems. The continuous increase in fish consumption and demand for fish in Qatar needs to be addressed through aquaculture production. The Department of Fisheries is planning new experimental projects for the growth of the aquaculture industries as a profitable venture. The natural resources for aquaculture are yet to be exploited and they require pioneering effort both from government and the private sector. Coast land unavailable for agriculture and commercial activities are available for fish and shrimp culture and associated activities.
|History and general overview|
Aquaculture activity in Qatar started in 1988 with the construction of a small government experimental aquaculture research facility in cooperation with experts from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), called the Doha Aquaculture Centre. The centre carries out research on selected species suitable for fish culture according to their price and demand on the local market. Currently the private sector focuses on Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) aquaculture. Most of the private farms are located in south west end of the country.
The centre started working with the white-spotted spinefoot (Siganus canaliculatus), a popular fish in Qatar. The wild fingerlings collected from the sea in March, three months after the spawning season, were reared in an open system for 6-8 months until they reached marketable size of 200 g. Imported artificial feed was used during the rearing period.
In 1998, experiments began in the larvae rearing of both the white spotted spine foot and the yellowfin seabream (Acanthopagrus latus) and succeeded in the controlled spawning of the latter species. The hatchery-produced fingerlings were released into the sea for stock enhancement during 1998-2000 and 2002. In 2004, 3 000 green tiger prawn larvae (Penaeus semisulcatus) were also produced under controlled conditions and released into the sea.
On an experimental basis, the yellowfin seabream was successfully reared for 18 months. In 2001 a small hatchery unit was established with a seawater treatment system and rotifer production unit. In 2002, a research programme began into improved rearing technology for the larvae of yellowfin seabream, and better results in terms of growth and survival were obtained.
The current number of people employed in the aquaculture sector is insignificant.
|Farming systems distribution and characteristics|
Most of the private farms are small and are located on the south-west coast, following semi-intensive culture methods of Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus
). Annual production capacity is around 20 tonnes. There is not much commercial culture activity in the country.
The species cultured in the private sector is the Nile tilapia. Experimental trails have been carried out with the white-spotted spinefoot (Siganus canaliculatus), yellowfin seabream (Acanthopagrus latus), and the greasy grouper (Epinephelus tauvina). The larval production of yellowfin seabream and green tiger prawn (Penaeus semisulactus) was successfully carried out and both species are used in marine stock enhancement programmes.
|Practices/systems of culture|
As mentioned above, the semi-intensive culture method is practiced by the private sector. Earthen ponds 10 x 20 x 1 m in size and concrete tanks (3 x 10 x 1) are used for farming. The research conducted by the Department of Fisheries into the viabilityof finfish culture has been found promising. Commercial culture activity is yet to be undertaken with the active participation of private investment.
|Market and trade|
There is no specific market for the sale of aquaculture products due to their limited availability. The produce is sold directly to shopping malls and hotels.
|Contribution to the economy|
As the production and income from aquaculture is very low, there is no significant impact on the economy. The fish requirements of the country are met mostly from marine catch and imports.
|Promotion and management of the sector|
|The institutional framework|
The governing agency for fisheries and aquaculture is the Department of Fisheries under the Ministry of Environment, and headed by the Director of Fisheries. Aquaculture activities are under the responsibility of the Aquaculture Unit of Fisheries Development Division within the Department. This division regulates all aquaculture, stock enhancement and conservation programmes in the country. The staff that works in the Department includes professionals, technical and support personnel. Special emphasis is being given to engage more staff in the aquaculture sector for its pilot project at Alkhor. The Department takes all available opportunities to train and educate its personnel by participating in national and international fora, exhibitions and symposiums.
|The governing regulations|
There are no regulations for aquaculture, but there are common aquaculture rules and regulations for aquaculture activities in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Many of these regulations are however still under review and discussion between the GCC countries.
|Applied research, education and training|
Research and training are the responsibility of the Department of Fisheries, mainly for site selection, identifying suitable species, growth studies, controlled larval rearing, disease control and management. The premier educational institution, Qatar University, offers a graduate level course in Marine Science to impart scientific and technical knowledge in this field to the coming generation.
|Trends, issues and development|
For many years the Department of Fisheries attached great importance on the national marine resources through research into fish stock assessment and aquaculture activities. In order to develop sustainable aquaculture, the Department recently proposed the construction of its first Marine Resources Research Center at Rasmutback, north of Al Khor.
Fishery Department. 2006. Fishery statistic book. Doha, Qatar.
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture