Red Sea Development Company to start desert aquaculture tests in April

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Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea developer will begin test production on its planned aquaculture project by the second quarter of this year, a senior official told Arab News.

The Red Sea Development Company, or TRSDC, will try “a number of fish species,” Ventures Direc-tor Michael Slage said, but the focus will be to farm native species that are difficult to farm using tradi-tional methods.

The move builds on an earlier partnership with Aus-trian biotechnology firm Blue Planet Ecosystems, but the project was delayed due to COVID-19.

TRSDC earlier expressed its plans to promote sus-tainable practices in all of its operations, including producing sustainable food for the millions of tour-ists it expects to visit the destination once open.

Slage said they intend to maintain the highest stan-dards in seafood farming, including avoiding the use of pesticides and antibiotics.

“We are looking at using artisanal seafood farming methods like mangrove aquaculture, which plants mangroves, and allows them to act as a natural nursery for native species for example,” he ex-plained. “Working with nature instead of apart from it like this is what makes aquaculture sustainable and is the only kind of seafood farming we will be doing within the project,” the TRSDC executive said. Slage clarified they are not expecting to produce mass harvests out of the project, but to just “focus on arming native species and creating new employ-ment opportunities in our communities.”

He added: “As a pathfinder, we can pass on our experiences to aquaculture companies to use to pro-duce large quantities in a sustainable way.”

TRSDC is in discussions with “a number of innova-tive companies and organizations” to further define a sustainable aquaculture framework, Slage said, while strengthening partnerships with local commu-nities.

These efforts are in line with the company’s core strategy of regenerative tourism – where they ac-tively pursue initiatives that would improve the environment, rather than contribute to its degrada-tion.

“We are working very closely with the Prince Mo-hamed bin Salman Reserve… to establish the largest no-take marine protected area in the entire region.—AN

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