The production of fish in the GCC region is projected to grow at a rate of 7.2%, during the forecast period (2020-2025). The drivers identified in the market are a rapid rise in the population, an increase in affluent households, a focus on diversification, and changing diet preferences. The restraints identified in the market are unsustainable capture fishing patterns, low level of informal fisheries consolidation, and low level of knowledge and technology dissemination.
Key Market Trends
Government Initiatives for Sustainable Fish Farming with an Objective towards Self-Sufficiency
The governments in the Gulf region have developed policies and favorable investment conditions in order to raise the level of fish farming in the region. The primary attributes of the development of the aquaculture sector in the region have been high import dependency, preservation of scarce freshwater, and potential for export surplus. Although the aquaculture industry is still in the burgeoning phase, Oman’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has been making large-scale investments valued at USD 1.0 billion across 15,000 hectares of land for the development of the aquaculture sector. The country is expected to produce 200,000.0 metric ton of fish between 2030 and 2040. Moreover, the Saudi Ministry plays a key role in expanding the aquaculture sector only to meet domestic demand, but also to produce surplus fish for exports. In 2017, the total fish production in Saudi Arabia reached 60,000.0 metric ton with an aim to surpass 100,000.0 metric ton in 2020 and 600,000,0 metric ton in 2030. Therefore, the supportive government policies towards the objective of expanding the aquaculture industry, are further expected to drive the market, during the forecast period.
Increasing Production of Freshwater Fish
The steady expansion of the aquaculture industry in the GCC region can be 7attributed to the rise in the production level of freshwater fish in recent years. In Saudi Arabia, which has a well-established aquaculture sector, the total production of tilapia and other cichlids rose to 7,780.0 metric ton in 2017 from 5,850.0 metric ton in 2013. Moreover, there are five licensed aquaculture operations in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The total production increased from 405 metric ton in 2016 to 648.0 metric ton in 2017 while the entire aquaculture sector produced 810 metric ton of seafood in 2018. However, since fish from the aquaculture accounts for only about 3,255.0 metric ton, the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment's new aquaculture strategy 2019 aims to accelerate the growth of the aquaculture industry through six initiatives which include streamlining the process of acquiring permits, identifying fish farming systems and appropriate sites, and promoting economic investments, among others, which is further expected to enhance the production of freshwater fish in the region, thus, driving the aquaculture sector in the coming years.
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