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 on May 17 – 18, 2023 in Riyadh. The two-day Forum highlighted two Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) that align with the conference’s focus on the potential of expanding marine aquaculture in Saudi Arabia. The event supports Saudi Arabia’s ambition to become the 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, there are ample opportunities for innovation.
KAUST Beacon Development, the University’s consultancy arm, and MEWA are proud to host the two-day conference where two MoUs have emerged. The first, between KAUST and Arabian Agricultural Services Co. (ARASCO) aims to focus on the development and manufacture of aquaculture feed. Additionally, the second, between KAUST and United Feed Manufacturing Company (UFMC) will explore livestock, poultry and fisheries research.
“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 the algal and aquaculture facilities and foster the knowledge to advance this sector,” said Mark Hull, Chief Operations Officer at KAUST Beacon Development. “This forum brought together government, fish feed manufacturers, academia and researchers who together are innovating the future of aquaculture solutions.”
MEWA and KAUST are committed to developing long-term solutions to the Kingdom’s sustainable food solution needs through aquaculture as well as algal development. In 2022, the university launched a pilot scale project in the KAUST Research and Technology Park and that is on track to deliver a four-hectare proof of concept later this year. MEWA is also dedicated to achieving up to 530, 000 tons of seafood by 2030.
“The forum aims to highlight the outputs of the Aquaculture Development Program (ADP), an initiative sponsored by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture MEWA) to implement applied research to develop the aquaculture industry in the Kingdom, and is 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 strongly contribute to the national economy by presenting outputs and results of the research – including the intellectual property rights of the ministry represented in the national program for the development of the livestock and fisheries sector.”
The forum showcased the past five years of research on commercial aquaculture species and provided guidelines to address the new challenges related to fish nutrition and feed formulation aspects. The agenda included talks such as: Aquaculture: the way towards a sustainable future – a Benchmark study on the European seabass and meagre fed with commercial diets, as well as a Benchmark study on the marine tilapia fed with commercial diets as well as many more expert debates and presentations.
Ensuring sustainable food production for the Kingdom is a central pillar of both KAUST’s vision and ultimately the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. Utilizing its resources to solve the pressing issue of 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.