27 February 2019

Lab Chat

The UAE has a proud coastal heritage, with fishing deeply embedded within the culture of the country. But with an increasing demand for fish, primarily as a rich protein source, fish stocks have depleted worryingly.

That’s where Aqua Bridge comes in. The Dubai-based start-up project was set up back in 2017, aiming to support local fish farmers to produce high-quality, cost-effective and safe fish, all while preserving the environment using sustainable technology.

Supporting local farms

This project ultimately aims to reduce the UAE’s dependency on imported fish. According to the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, the annual seafood consumption in the UAE is nearly 226,000 tonnes, on average, while the amount of fish caught from natural fish sources in the Gulf is only 70,000 tonnes. So, more than 70% of the UAE’s seafood consumption is reliant on imports.

Aqua Bridge aims to boost small farms and coastal fish workers, empowering the local aquaculture industry to develop seafood across the UAE. There are currently 13 registered fish farms in the UAE and 11 of them are supported by Aqua Bridge. Mohammad Tabish, the Indian CEO of Aqua Bridge, described how the project “supports local farmers with the provision of technical know-how, husbandry and bio-engineering machinery procurement and fingerlings (juvenile fish)”.

“We were the first operators of the facility. The contractual task was to produce 20.0 million fingerlings of local fish, the biggest commercial production of local species in the region,” explains Tabish. The huge mass of fingerlings were used to restock programmes in the Gulf and to work towards the sustainable development of aquaculture in the UAE.

Growing interest in the industry

The ever-growing interest in the aquaculture industry in recent years has resulted in the creation of the Sheikh Khalifa Marine Research Centre in Umm Al Quwain. The centre will be home to 14 specialist laboratories, divided into 5 clusters, which will be operated in partnership with regional and international partners.

The project, as well as reducing the UAE’s dependency on imported seafood, aims to transform the country’s sustainability and promote eco-friendly food production. How this project will ultimately effect the UAE’s eco-friendliness remains to be seen, but with progress such as Aqua Bridge, we predict that 2019 could be a turning point for the environment around the world.


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