Starting a new fish farm in the UAE
Before we undertook the fish farming in UAE, we had to familiarize ourselves with the location and the environmental factors of the country. Here is the basic information about the country. UAE is located in Southwest Asia in the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula and it borders Gulf of Oman and the southern coast of the Persian Gulf. The country is hemmed in between Oman and Saudi Arabia to both the west and south. Qatar lies to the north of UAE. Oman lays to the east of it.UAE covers an area of 67,340 square kilometers and is divided into emirates with Abu Dhabi being the largest and Ajman the smallest.
Talking in general terms, the climate of UAE is hot and dry and therefore the biggest part of the land is not only barren but also sandy. Temperatures can escalate as high as 480 C on the coastal during the hot months which are July and August. However, some places at UAE, register cooler temperatures due to increment in altitude. On the contrary, the temperatures can fall as low as 100 C during the cold months which are on January and February. The coastal region of UAE receives an average rainfall of 120 mm per annum while some mountainous regions register as high as 350 mm per annum.
The fish farming Project in UAE
The type of fish that we were interested in is Zubaidy, locally known as Zubaidi and which is an Arabic type of fish. In English, Zubaidi is known as Black Pomfret. Our objective was to become the main source of food in the region. The company aimed at not only preserving the mariner environment but also controlling the quality of production so as to enhance the protection and conservation of the fisheries reserves as per the required rates of the United Arab Emirates government.
The picture above shows Zubaidi (Pomfret) fish
Location of UAE on the World Map
Map of UAE and its neighboring countries
Just like every other initiated project, we made our project plan of the fish farm. We had to consider the topography, water supply and the type of soil. There are two types of ponds: contour ponds and dug-out ponds. We constructed dug-out ponds on the fish farm.
An overview and side view of two types of fish ponds (Herda, 2008) on our fish farm project
Factors that we considered while making the fish ponds in the farm
Fish are dependant on water for all their needs: breathing, eating, growing and reproducing (Ponds, 2003). Therefore, we had to make the availability of adequate fresh water at all times. Since UAE is largely a desert country, we were sure of one thing: that rainfall could not be relied upon. We dug a well to supplement the rainfall which fell, though literally, once in a blue moon. However, well water has got two advantages: it has low content of oxygen and in the well that we dug was dark smelly brown, an indication that it was acidic (Coche, 1992). We overcame the two hurdles by oxidizing and adding lime to the well water before we let it in the pond.
After water, the type of soil falls into the second category of importance. The type of soil found in the location of the fish pond is of great importance since it will determine the ability to hold water. The simplest way to know if the soil is good for holding water is testing it by hand feeling. If the soil is rough or gritty to touch, it is evident that it has lots of sand particles in it and which implies that it is a poor retainer of water (Coche, Pond construction for freshwater fish culture: building earthen ponds, 1985).The best type of soil and which holds water for a long time is clay and it is smooth and slippery to the touch. In the location of our fish pond the soil was clay even though it wasn’t well distributed.
We did not overlook this factor since it’s vital in determining the survival of the fish in the ponds (Handbook, 2010). A pond built on a location with fertile soil supports fish food since planktons will tend to grow where the soil has got nutrients such as calcium, magnesium and iron. Even though big portions of UAE are not fit for agriculture, we were fortunate to have a location that supported good crops and that implied that fish food would grow well.
Topography is the shape of the land and it’s described by terms such as hilly or lowland. We built the ponds in a flatland, all in rectangular shapes with one side slightly slowing to enhance gravity assisted drain of the water.
Steps that we followed when we were building the fish pond on our fish farm
Step one: setting up the location.
Step two: we assessed whether the dirt was good by digging a small hole and pouring some water in the hole. The water took to seep and we knew that the land was appropriate for the construction of the fish pond.
Step three: digging the required dimensions on the location of the pond (a sample in the all or most of the designated available area of the pond).
Step three: Planting wet land plants so that when the plants grew, their roots could provide places where the fish could hide from predators such as eagles.
Step four: we filled the pond with water to the required level but less than the brim of the fish pond to avoid run off.
Step five: before we introduced Pomfret fingerlings into the pond, we let the water settle down first and as a second thought, we introduced crawdads so that the bottom of the pond could be clean.
The type of fish to be reared
The type of fish to be reared wasn’t an issue since we has settled on Zubaidi, which is an Arabic type of fish. This type of fish has over thirty-five species mostly found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans (Publications, 2007). These types of fish are easily distinguished in that they have only one dorsal fin and in some species, it runs the entire length of the body. Some species are deep-bodied and have tail fins that are deeply forked.
The source of Zubaidi fish
We collected and fertilized the eggs by stripping completely ripe female and males Zubaidi that we caught from the Persian Gulf using gillnets. We caught the fish between May and October at a time when the temperatures are favorable between 28 to 310 C. The fertilized eggs have a diameter of about 1.1 mm. Using guidelines from an expatriate from Kuwait; we incubated the eggs 2000 eggs/l at an aerated topography of gently flowing seawater. We set the temperature of the incubators similar to the one in the natural condition: at 29 to 300 C. After a period of 15 hours, fish larvae with a length of about 2.4 mm were hatched (Susan, 2008).
We reared the fish larvae in round fiberglass tanks, measuring 1 m3 and 3 m3 and re-adjusted the temperature of the incubators to 27-29 0 C (Mark, 2004). Unlike during fertilization where the fertilized eggs are much concentrated, the expatriate recommended the density of the fish larva be between 30 to 40 larvae per liter (Bhattacharya).To ensure high survival level of the larvae, we used diverse algal species rather than a single algal species. Some of the algal species that we used were: Isochrysis, Nannochloropsis and Chlorella. The larvas were rapidly growing and on the second week, we started feeding them algal that was supplemented with Artemi naupilii. A week later, the larvae which now had developed into fingerlings were weaned to paste feed that was formulated which was suspended in water columns using trays.
Harvesting eggs from a female fish using expressing method
By then, the fingerlings were old to be introduced in fish ponds and. At about 115 to 135 days from the day that they were hatched, there is sexual differentiation for both the males and the females.
The Zubaidi fish have one great advantage: they are highly resistant to unfavorable conditions limnologis.
Fish pond preparation before the introduction of the fish
The purpose of fish pond preparation is so that natural fish food can grow in sufficient quantities (Ibrahim, 2005). When the fish pond bottom is absolutely dry, before water has been let in the pond we limed the bottom of the pond using calcium oxide and dolomite at a quantity of 25 kg/100 m2. The purpose of liming the bottom of the pond was to increase the pH content of the soil, kill the pathogens and the pests that couldn’t die during the drying process. Even though we our initial plan on our manifesto was to rear the fish using artificial foods and addictives, we nevertheless enhanced the growth of fish food in the pond by putting manure using the user-recommended quantity of 25-50 kg per every 100 m2 and also TSP at the recommended 3 kg/ 100 m2. However, there is a point worth noting if a person can follow plan of adding manure in the pond: if the manure is not fully ripe, it can be toxic to the fish.
The next step was putting water into the pond to a level of 2 cm and left it for a period of three days. We then added and continued adding until the depth of 120 cm was reached. We selected the best fingerlings, put them in oxidized containers and introduced them in the ponds. Only the best fingerlings were introduced in the pond while those that were not up to the standards were weeded out.
Feeding the Zubaidi
We fed the Zubaidi with fish feed that was nutritionally balanced with protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals (Rao, 2000). We either administered in the form of leaves or pellets. When they were young we mostly supplemented the feeds of the Pomfret fish with extruded meals that are made of: about 45- 55 % of fish meal, an average of between 20- 25 % of flour, a content of about 10- 15 % of a soya bean meal, 2- 6 % content corn protamine, 2- 5 % content of fish oil, 2- 6 % brewer’s yeast, a content of about 1- 3 % of minerals, 0.3 – 1 % of chorine chloride and 0.2 % content of marine fish multidimensional. Since we didn’t want to start all over again in introducing new fingerlings in the fish ponds, our harvesting was reduced only to the mature fish and the young ones were left to stock the ponds.
We had the first harvest after a period of five months from the time the Zubaidi fish were introduced into the ponds and at the time, the fish had attained an approximate of 0.5 kg (Matthias, 2007). To ensure that underage Zubaidi were not harvested, we used the “waring bemata wide.”
Advantages of the Zubaidi fish farming in UAE
There are several advantages of the fish farming in UAE. One of them is that there are a number of seafood processing plants in UAE which are also responsible4 for the marketing of the commodity both within the region and also globally. Another advantage is that there is ready market provisions by the local traders and the hotel managements who buy them in huge quantities.
Another great advantage is that the United Arab Emirates government assists fishing in the country in such ways as provision of cooperatives that help in marketing the fish caught and harvested.
The other advantage about the fish farm is that fish have got a ready market all over the world since there are known for their high quality and protein that is highly digestible (Allen, 1824). Also, the Pomfret fish can not be overlooked because they have a remarkable shelf life as a fresh product which can last as more as three weeks if they handled appropriately after they are captured.
Our company followed the law requirements of both preserving the marine environment and controlling the quality of the production so as to assist in the production and conservation of the fisheries reserves. Some of the requirements were fishing in the spawning (breeding) season and for our source of the fingerlings, we had to set to work the precise time to avoid clashing with the United Arab Emirates’ laws (Sara, 2000). The law in UAE also prohibits the exportation of local fishes without except the local fishermen suitable license given out by the Ministry and the proficient authority. We solved that by exporting our fish products through a third party: a local large-scale fisherman.
The other law puts it that not even the local fishermen are supposed to export the local fishes except between November to April and it is against the law, which doesn’t give preferential treatment to anyone to export fishes from the months that follow after May up to October(Bradley, 1998). In so doing, the UAE administration makes a larger step in the not only conservation, but also the restoration of the marine resources. We respected that law with full contentment because there is great need to preserver the marine resources since play a vital role in the supply of the fingerlings. Our company solved that by timing the accepted export time and the other time was left for the breeding of the fishes.
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