SAUDI ARABIA

KAUST, MEWA host aquaculture forum; 2 MoUs signed to promote research

May 25, 2023

THUWAL — King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) has partnered with the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) to host the KSA Marine Finfish Nutrition and Novel Feed Formulation Forum in Riyadh on May 17-18.

The two-day forum brought together government, industry and academia to develop solutions for aquaculture. Among the highlights of the forum was the signing of two memoranda of understanding (MoU) that align with the conference’s focus on expanding marine aquaculture in Saudi Arabia. The event supports Saudi Arabia's ambition to become a global leader in aquaculture, a sustainable practice that supports Vision 2030 and the Saudi Green Initiative’s focus on food security.

Aquaculture is the controlled process of cultivating aquatic organisms for consumption. Similar to agriculture, but with fish instead of plants or livestock, aquaculture provides a solution for a sustainable supply of protein. The process also lends itself to lower greenhouse gas emissions than other types of farming. With Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea and Arabian Gulf coastlines measuring roughly 3,400 kilometers, the Kingdom offers ample opportunities for innovation in this sector.

KAUST Beacon Development, the university's consultancy arm, and MEWA are proud to have hosted the two-day conference where the two MoU were signed, said a press statement. The first, between KAUST and Arabian Agricultural Services Co. (ARASCO), aims to develop and manufacture aquaculture feed. The second, between KAUST and United Feed Manufacturing Company (UFMC), will explore research on livestock, poultry and fisheries.

"As part of improving food security and self-sufficiency, Saudi Arabia is positioned to become the global leader in aquaculture and sustainable seafood production. We are proud to work with MEWA and the National Fisheries Development Program to develop algal and aquaculture facilities and foster knowledge to advance this sector,” said Mark Hull, Chief Operations Officer at KAUST Beacon Development.

MEWA and KAUST are committed to developing long-term solutions to the Kingdom's sustainable food needs through aquaculture and algal development. In 2022, the university launched a pilot scale project at the KAUST Research and Technology Park that is on track to deliver a four-hectare proof of concept later this year.

“The forum aims to highlight the outputs of the Aquaculture Development Program (ADP), an initiative sponsored by MEWA to implement applied research to develop the aquaculture industry in the Kingdom and focused on producing 530 thousand tons of seafood by 2030,” said Dr. Ali Alshaikhi, CEO of the National Livestock and Fisheries Development Program.

“The forum is an extension of the role MEWA plays in enabling the private sector to contribute to the national economy by presenting outputs and results of the research, including intellectual property rights of the ministry represented in the national program for the development of the livestock and fisheries sectors.”

The forum showcased the past five years of research on commercial aquaculture species and provided guidelines to address new challenges related to fish nutrition and feed formulation. The agenda included talks such as Aquaculture: the way toward a sustainable future -- a benchmark study on the European seabass and meager fed with commercial diets; another benchmark study on marine tilapia fed with commercial diets; and many more presentations by experts.

Ensuring sustainable food production for the Kingdom is a central pillar of both KAUST’s vision and Vision 2030. Utilizing its resources to solve food security, KAUST has been a steady champion of aquaculture through cutting-edge research and technology development. Focusing on food security will also result in a more circular and diverse economy for Saudi Arabia. Together with MEWA, KAUST will continue to promote advanced technology solutions that power the future.— SG


May 25, 2023
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