Middle East urged to embrace the Blue Bio-Economy
Source: Total Communications , Author: Posted by BI-ME staff
Posted: Tue March 21, 2017 1:57 pm


UAE.  Fish farming is the fastest growing sector of global food production, predicted to produce nearly two thirds of global food fish supplied by 2030, but in order to cope with demand the Middle East must adopt innovative practices now and embrace the Blue Bio-Economy.

That is the message that has been delivered to hundreds of farm owners, government officials, and international and regional agricultural scientists at the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA), which concludes today (21 March) at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

The panel discussion on the Blue Bio-Economy in the GCC was moderated by Haydar H. Al Sahtout, Arabian Shrimp Co., Chairman of the Fisheries Strategic Development Plan Steering Committee, Saudi Arabia and Former CEO of Saudi Fisheries Co.

Eng. Ahmad R. Al Ballaa, CEO of the National Aquaculture Group, Chairman of the Saudi Aquaculture Society and Board Member of the National Fisheries Development Programme in Saudi Arabia presented a compelling session on the relatively new concept of the Blue Bio-Economy and its impact for the region’s fishing practices.

“In order for the aquaculture industry to meet the future demand of fish, various advancements must be considered.  It is vital that we take an industrial, fully integrated, innovative and sustainable approach which includes the whole components of the value chain: pre culture stage, culture stage, post culture stage and cross functional stages,” said Eng. Ahmad R. Al Ballaa.

The concept of the Blue Economy was conceived at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, broadly covering all economic activities that directly or indirectly take place in the ocean, use outputs from the ocean and put goods and services into ocean activities. 

In turn, the Blue Bio-Economy focuses on the potential benefits from using under-utilised, renewable, abundant biological marine resources and is quickly gaining importance around the world.  With 72% of the planet’s surface covered by water, 50% of the world’s population living within 60km of the sea and 75% of all large cities located on coasts, the significance of aquaculture farming is indisputed.

Her Excellency Eng. Mariam Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Mheiri, Assistant Undersecretary, Environmental Affairs & Nature Conservation at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, took part in the panel session and said: “Aquaculture in the MENA region is fairly new and underdeveloped in most countries. Recent studies have reported that growing populations, geographical advantages, private sector investments and government support are major drivers of aquaculture productivity in the region.

“The UAE has been taking proactive measures to address overfishing and protection of the marine environment through policies, legislations and regulations as well as investments in research and development.
“Several UAE-based research entities conduct research and studies focused on fisheries. The Sheikh Khalifa Marine Research Center aims to develop both the fisheries and aquaculture industries in the UAE to ensure food security and promote food diversification and sustainable local production.

“Most importantly, an ambitious and comprehensive UAE Sustainable Fisheries Program was launched in 2016 in collaboration with the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, consisting of several projects on research, data management, fisheries management and enforcement, with the overall aim to promote sustainable fisheries in the UAE. Also, acknowledging the importance of the well-being of the marine and coastal environment, the UAE launched the National Marine and Coastal Environment Monitoring Program in 2016,” Al Mheiri added.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister of the UAE, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority, the GFIA conference features speakers from around the world tackling five key challenges: climate-resilient crops; growing the aquaculture industry; future-proofing animal health; smallholder farmer development; and sustainable animal production. 

The much anticipated two-day event, which has attracted thousands of participants from around the world, acts as an international platform for a debate over global food security and water scarcity – two major issues the world faces today.

The fourth edition of GFIA featured an exhibition hosting some 250 companies, and an Innovations Programme, showcasing a series of 15-minute talks from companies who think they have a next-generation solution that could shape the future of farming around the world. 

Further information can be found at www.InnovationsInAgriculture.com.



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