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A salmon hatchery in the desert


March 12, 2014
By Quentin Dodd

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Companies in the United Arab Emirates recognize that they need to diversify from oil and are not shy about taking on a challenge. The Asmak International Fish Farming Holding Co based in Abu Dhabi is embarking on a project to grow salmon in the desert.

 Early last fall the company started building a land-based water-recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) covering some 500,000 square metres on Dalma Island in Gharbia. Operators of the facility say they will produce up to 2,000 metric tonnes of salmon, subaiti, seabream, hammour, tilapia and barramundi, and pending approval of the project’s second phase could bring the total fish grown to 4,000 metric tonnes.

Cultivating salmon will be a challenge, admits Tamer Yousef, marketing manager of Asmak, particularly in an area where the water gets very warm in the summer. But the company believes that they have the technology to be successful. Sea water will be pumped into the facility, cooled and then maintained at 13°C for use in the tanks.

The project includes a hatchery, a 1,500 square meter nursery for juvenile fish and fish-feeding tanks.

 Price tag of the project? About 100 million dirhams or $27.2 million.

Photo courtesy Asmak International


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