Aquaculture is the farming of saltwater organisms such as finfish, molluscs, crustaceans, and aquatic plants. Also known as aqua farming, aquaculture involves cultivating aquatic populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the harvesting of wild fish.
Commercial aquaculture supplies one half of the fish and shellfish that is directly consumed by humans. In 2011, the total world production of fisheries was 154 million tonnes of which aquaculture contributed 63.5 million ton or about 41.3% of the total world production. The growth rate of worldwide aquaculture has been sustained and rapid, averaging about 8.8 percent per annum for over thirty years, while the take from wild fisheries has been essentially flat for the last decade.
The shrimp and the finfish resources off both the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea coasts are already intensely exploited. The present annual shrimp production could be increased, as in the 1980s, by a reduction of fishing effort, better controls on the taking of small shrimp in shallow water areas by artisanal vessels, and prevention of illegal fishing on the main shrimp nursery areas. Like other countries in the region, the catch of some major finfish species (such as grouper) on the Arabian Gulf coast of Saudi Arabia is in decline. Over exploitation may be a contributing factor in this decline (as indicated by fish length or age distributions) as well as changing environmental conditions brought about by coastal development. Cooperative management among all Gulf and Red Sea countries for shared stocks is needed to address the overall management of these regional stocks.
The Government has identified aquaculture production as a priority and has set a target production from this sector of 48,00MT in the medium term. Current aquaculture production is around 8,00MT.
It continue to grow, today's estimates for shrimp consumption in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is around ½ kilo per person annually - though of course consumption is higher in coastal and port areas such as Jeddah and Dammam. Also there is shift to rich protein diets with a main role for marine products. With the emergence of seafood as an important part of daily nutrition we expect the consumption of fish and shrimps to increase.
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