Aquaculture and Food Security in the Gulf Cooperation Council


Aquaculture and Food Security in the GCC: Investing in the Right Technology


This paper firstly provides a general introduction of aquaculture and discusses the differences between the various aquaculture technologies that exist. Then, it discusses specifically how aquaculture can contribute to food security in the Arabian Peninsula. Moreover, it provides a general overview of the current projects in these countries and the prospective of this field in the region. The last part of the paper will propose policy recommendations for the GCC governments on which are the best technologies to invest in for the countries of the Arabian Gulf and to enhance the development of the field.

Key Findings

The paper underlines the differences between the four production technologies used in aquaculture: open systems, semi-closed systems, closed systems and hybrid systems. It emphasizes that open and semi-open production systems are cheaper and easier to run than other systems, significantly rely on the environment and have the advantage of benefiting both small-scale and large-scale farmers. However, they need a high density of water circulation and the production quantity produced is lower than with closed or hybrid systems.

Differently, closed and hybrid systems are more complex production techniques that require professionally trained workers. Their advantages consist in the significant reduction in the use of water and land, and in the production of high volume of the cultivated specie. Yet, the initial investment and the cost of production are considerably high.

            Then, the paper distinguishes the GCC countries into two groups; Group 1 with Saudi Arabia and Oman and Group 2 with Qatar, the UAE and Oman. This distinction is based on the different socio-economic elements of the countries within in the GCC. Based on this distinction, the paper demonstrates that Saudi Arabia and Oman should invest in open and semi-open systems due to the different economic levels and environmental characteristics of these two countries. Differently, Qatar, the UAE and Oman are encouraged to develop closed and hybrid systems due to the willingness of their governments to produce large quantities of seafood as well as the significant water savings that derive from these technologies.

The Way Forward

This paper aims at exploring the possibilities of aquaculture in the Arabian Peninsula as well as advising the GCC governments on the most suitable aquaculture technologies for their economies. This paper hopes to enhance the understanding of the benefits of aquaculture in the GCC and support the development of the field in the region. 

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Global Water

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