The first ever home-grown salmon in The United Arab Emirates is set to hit the market on Friday, April 5th.
"It is an interesting project and a great achievement. This proves that it is possible to produce salmon in the desert - and in theory everywhere depending on the investment costs of course" says Jacob Bregnballe, Sales Director in AKVA group Land Based AS.
Fish Farm LLC, headquartered in Dubai, UAE, has set up an inland farming facility in Jebel Ali - a short drive outside Dubai. The farm is built in an existing building, and the fish bred in a controlled environment in a recirculation aquaculture system (RAS) - all from AKVA group - including Akvasmart CCS feeding system, AKVAconnect software and more.
"The sea water originates from the Persian Gulf outside Dubai and the system is cooled to the desired temperature. The water consumption is reduced with 99 per cent compared to a normal flow-through system," says Bregnballe.
Fish Farm has 34 tanks at its facility in Jebel Ali port, of which four are used for the salmon grow-out. Fish Farm aims to produce a total of 10,000 to 15,000kg of salmon each month, although this could increase with demand, according to The National, a UAE newspaper.
“We’ve made salmon in the desert, it’s pretty remarkable. This type of land-based salmon farming in a hot climate has never been done in the world before,” Bader bin Mubarak, the Chief Executive of Fish Farm, says to The National.
“Until today, to taste salmon as fresh as ours in the UAE was simply an impossibility. The only way to have this experience was to travel to Scotland, Ireland, Norway or Chile to catch a fish and eat it within a few hours. But not any longer. We have turned the impossible into a reality: We can even deliver the fish alive," says Nigel Lewis, Aquaculture Development Manager in Fish Farm.
Eighteen months ago, Fish Farm received 40,000 salmon fry from a natural hatchery in North West Scotland and thousand more salmon eggs from Iceland to its onshore hatchery in the UAE. Automatic fish transfer pumps connect the tanks with transparent pipes so the team can monitor how the fish are moving and behaving when handled.
“We control the temperature, tides, salinity and depth, and create sunrise, sunset, automatic currents as if it’s a river or sea, and make it as if we have a storm or calm weather. It’s the only salmon breeding system in the world with full environment control,” bin Mubarak says.
UAE supermarkets and restaurants import 100 per cent of the salmon they sell, and only about 8 per cent of all the UAE’s fish is caught from local seas, according to the newspaper.
“There is huge demand here, and if we lost two of those species, we would have a food security problem,” bin Mubarak says.
Salmon is the second most eaten fish in the UAE, raising the need to develop a sustainable source of salmon at home.
“We have the freshest, best salmon available here, it is 100% traceable, sustainable, free from chemicals and antibiotics and totally conforms with the strategic Food Security criteria for UAE," Nigel Lewis says.