A lack of experience, finance and investment has resulted in the slow growth of the aquaculture sector in Yemen. At present, the Aquaculture Research Centre in Aden, established in 1988, and the privately owned Musallam Farm, established in 2004, are the only two operational aquaculture facilities in the country. Work has recently begun at Al-Shihr on the eastern coast for the construction of a new commercial farm utilizing German investment and closed re-circulation technology. Many Yemeni investors are beginning to show interest in the sector and as a result a survey to identify areas suitable for shrimp culture has been conducted in cooperation with the Egyptian National Institute of Marine Science and Fisheries.
At the Aquaculture Research Centre the main species currently studied as suitable aquaculture candidates are the Indian white shrimp (Penaeus indicus), the green tiger shrimp (Penaeus semisulcatus ) and the goldlined seabream (Rhabdosargus sarba). In 2005 the Musallam farm producted 380 tonnes of Indian white shrimp.
Potential exists for further development of the sector, particularly if private companies are prepared to invest in research activities in cooperation with the Ministry of Fish Health and with those institutes engaged with the promotion and development of the sector.
During the 1980s Yemen recognized the need to prioritize the development of fishery sector in order to promote exports as well as to secure the supply of high quality protein for the domestic market.
Back in 1978 a Japanese company introduced the first aquaculture technology and as a result the Government of Yemen requested Japan to assist in the construction of an aquaculture research centre. In response to this request the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) began a survey to identify suitable resources and locations before embarking in 1987 with the construction of the facility. The research activities of the centre focus on seed production techniques for both fish and shrimp species as well as to provide training for aquaculture technicians.
The new Aquaculture Research Centre (ARC) began operations in April 1988. Two aquaculture experts were employed between 1988 and 1991. A Japanese expert, funded by JICA, joined in 1991 to provide expertise in the shrimp hatchery technology.The Musallam Farm began production in 2005 of Indian white shrimp using 100 m2 earthen ponds. The farm facilities also include a hatchery and a feed pellet manufacturing facility.
The ARC currently employs a total of 31 people including 6 researchers, 10 technicians and 15 workers; the Musallam Farm employs 100 people including 4 aquaculture experts and 12-30 technicians.
The ARC is located at the western end of the Gulf of Aden, Al-Buraika District (Aden Governorate) and covers an area of approximately 30 000 m2 and utilizes concrete tanks supplied with seawater, covering an area of approximately one hectare. The centre also runs a hatchery and a small-scale feed facility. Shrimp are farmed using a semi-intensive production system, with culture density of 15 postlarvae/m2 .
Musallam Farm is located along the Red Sea coast in Al-Khauba District (Al-Hudaidah Governorate). It covers an area of about 100 hectares and utilizes seawater to supply 100 earth pond each of 100 m2 . The farm runs a semi-intensive system culturing shrimp at an initial density of 25 postlarvae/m2 . Target production is around 6 tonnes/hectare.
Two species of shrimp and one finfish are cultured by the ARC, namely the Indian white shrimp (Penaeus indicus) and the green tiger shrimp (Penaeus semisulcatus) as well as the goldlined seabream (Rhabdosargus sarba). The production of shrimp is the most important focus of activity as a result of their profitable export value.Shrimp broodstock are collected from natural fishing grounds at Mahra (Ghubbat Alkamar in the Arabian Sea) during the spawning season, between July and September, as well as from Hudaidah where broodstock are collected at Assaleef (Red Sea) between January and April. In the Aden Gulf broodstock are collected at Seera during the spawning season between July and November. Hatching in the ARC hatchery takes place between October and February with the nursery period then extending through March and April. The ongrowing phase takes place from May to October when the shrimp reach a marketable size of 20 g. Goldlined seabream production started in 1990 and is important both for the domestic market as well as for export, albeit of secondary importance to shrimp production. The broodstocks are collected from the fishing grounds at Fuqum in the Gulf of Aden during the spawning season in November. Hatching takes place between November and December. The juveniles are cultured for about one year before reaching the market size. Production of other finfish species has not yet been developed beyond the research stage due to technical difficulties.
Production from the ARC is still only on an experimental scale, with an annual production of about one tonne of shrimp. At Musallam Farm production from it first full year of operation in 2005 was 380 tonnes.
The national statistics are not reported to FAO.
The main destination of fishery products for domestic consumption are the wholesale markets at Hudgeef and Seera located in the fish port at Aden, as well as the Hudaidah fish wholesale market in the port of Hudaidah (Hudaidah Governorate). Refrigerated trucks are seldom used to move fish. Fish are transported to the local markets and processing facilities using crushed ice.Shrimp is the main product from aquaculture and while there is a good domestic market, especially in hotels and restaurants, the markets in European, East Asia and the USA are the most lucrative.
To date there is still no measurable contribution from aquaculture to the Yemeni economy since the sector has yet to develop operations of significant commercial scale.
The Aquaculture Research Centre is part of the Marine Science and Resources Research Centre, an institution created through co-operation between the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1983. This Centre reports directly to the Ministry of Fish Health. In 2002 the Minister of Fish Health submitted a proposal for a new institutional framework to enhance the activities of the fishery sector, however these have yet to be implemented.
The Musallam Farm is privately owned and belongs to the Musallam Trading Company.
The responsibilities of the Ministry of Fish Health are:
The main target species for research at the ARC are shrimp, namely the Indian white shrimp and green tiger shrimp both of which have been studied since the Centre was established. While, the goldlined seabream is currently the only finfish candidate studied at the Centre. The research focuses on juvenile production technologies. The Giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon), the spangled emperor (Lethrinus neblosus) and the flathead grey mullet (Mugil cephalus) are potential species that may be considered in future research programmes.
The ARC is also used as an educational centre for high schools and universities students to learn more about aquaculture techniques. Some students attend practical training courses while others carry out research projects at the Centre. Universities offering degrees which include elements of aquaculture are the Hadhramaut University of Science and Technology and the Hudaidah University.
The facilities at the ARC are fifteen years old and are in need of repair and upgrading. The Centre is currently experiencing difficulties in continuing with its research activities as a result of a lack of spare parts and the necessary equipment.
Commercial fisheries is already established as a key industry for the local economy in coastal areas, domestic demand for fishery products is showing an upward trend as a result of the high rate of population growth and an increased demand for fishery products from inland areas. In addition, fisheries and aquaculture related activities are positioned as a key generator of foreign earnings through exports and will play a key role in the country's future development plans.
As a result, the role of the ARC is becoming increasingly important despite a number of important issues that need to be addressed in order to re-establish and revitalise its activities. In 2002 the culture ponds of the Centre were repaired with the assistance of the Agriculture and Fishery Promotion Fund (Yemeni Fund). This fund has also contributed towards the provision of assistance with new instruments, chemicals and shrimp feed. In July 2005 a tender was announced to supply the ARC with additional equipment for research purposes as a result of support worth US$80 000 from the Japanese Government.
Additional issues to be addressed by the ARC include:
FAO. 2005. Aquaculture production, 2003. Year book of Fishery Statistics Vol.96/2. Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.
Abdulla Salem. 2001. Aquaculture in Yemen. Aquaculture Research Centre, Aden, p. 1- 5.
Abdulla Salem. 2003. Project for developing the Aden Aquaculture Research Centre. Ministry of Fish Health, Aden, p. 2.
Chikara Iioka. 2000. Present status and management direction for the Aquaculture Research Centre in the Republic of Yemen. Ministry of Fish Health, Aden, p. 4.
Ministry of Fish Health. 2004. Proposal for the modification of the republican resolution bylaw No. (42) 1991 with the republican resolution bylaw No (43) 1997, regarding management, exploitation and protection of aquatic organisms. Sana'a, p. 3 - 4.