FISH

Saudi Arabia 2021 | FOOD & AGRICULTURE | B2B

Blessed with almost 2,000km of coastline and clean waters, Saudi Arabia seeks to exploit this resource in a smart and sustainable manner to produce highly nutritious seafood products.

Mohammed H. Al-Hajji
MOHAMMED H. AL-HAJJI
Deputy General Manager
Tabuk Fisheries Company
Ali Mohammad Al-Shaikhi
ALI MOHAMMAD AL-SHAIKHI
CEO
National Fisheries Development Program (NFDP) in the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture

How do you contribute to food security in Saudi Arabia?

MOHAMMED H. AL-HAJJI Tabuk Fisheries Company is the first company in Saudi Arabia to start catching fish using cages. We took upon the challenge to launch this industry in Saudi Arabia and invested SAR200 million. In 2009, we started harvesting the first batch, and, soon after, four more companies entered the industry based on our know-how and experience. This shows that Tabuk Fisheries Company is one of the most applied in this industry. We are heavily invested in food security in Saudi Arabia. We also are the first company in Saudi Arabia to engage with bio security protocol. We are exporting our know-how to other companies and are willing to conduct studies and operate for others. We are looking at how we can shape the industry's future. We must look at different solutions for energy and feed and invest in new technology in the aquaculture industry matching with Vision 2030. Saudization is not just about hiring Saudis; we want the entire input in the industry—the feed, cage, net, and so on—to be manufactured in Saudi Arabia, and we want to do our own know-how here in Saudi Arabia.

ALI MOHAMMAD AL-SHAIKHI Self-sufficiency is a contemporary challenge as we diversify our economy. Our overall plan is to reduce our country's dependence on imported food items and produce our own, under high quality standards and responsible management techniques. For the production of seafood, we have been blessed with a sea that has ideal conditions for the development of aquaculture—the Red Sea. We target on producing around 530,000 tons of fish and shrimp, of which about 65% will be consumed nationally and the rest will be exported. Already, we have the biggest single-site company shrimp producer in the world, and we expand in the marine fish sector through careful steps, in order to reach the volumes targeted for 2030. We also support research on improving the efficiency of micro and macro algae production techniques, aiming to produce high quality protein for fish (and land animal) feed, as well as other by-products of commercial interest.

How do you work to boost the popularity of fish in the Kingdom?

MHAH The ministry is encouraging people and organizes workshops and seminars and visits schools and malls to showcase the benefits of fish. We have contracts with many delivery companies, so consumers can get fresh or cooked fish delivered to their doorstep. For now, we have an agreement with many online apps and continue to add more apps online. This will further increase our market share. We also have three outlets in Riyadh. The idea behind these outlets is to better understand what consumers want and stay in touch with new trends. We are about to expand our number of outlets to be available around the Kingdom.

How do you work to boost exports and attract more investment into the sector?

AMAS In addition to our other initiatives, NFDP also organizes investment events and missions. So far, we have been to China, the UAE, Norway, and so on. We have also organized such events within our own country, such as during the Saudi Agricultural Exhibition, in Riyadh. We focus on not only the production and export potential, but also the operating regulatory framework that ensures the highest quality of our products and the implementation of strict international certification standards. Not only do we implement a strict biosecurity monitoring and control program, but 95% of our national aquaculture products are also certified by the Best Aquaculture Practices program of the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA/BAP). We plan to reach a 100% BAP certification compliance by end of 2020. We will be the only country in the world with its national production being third-party audited and certified by one of the top three highly acknowledged certification standards globally.

How do you see the future of the sector?

MHAH The fisheries sector is a promising one. Now is a great time to invest in the sector. The industry is set to grow, though there is still much to do in terms of logistics, handling, and processing and manufacturing aquaculture machinery.

AMAS We expect an initial period of stable production growth in the next two to three years based mainly on the expansion of the existing companies. After, production is expected to grow at a faster rate in the coming years. Advances in R&D that will further improve efficiency, market development, infrastructure support, and overall promotion and support of the industry will lead the sector to impressive growth as planned.