H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, toured the Sheikh Khalifa Marine Research Centre in Umm Al Qaiwain on Wednesday, which is being built as part of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan's Initiatives to protect fisheries and assure that the marine environment remains free from pollution.
Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, and Ahmed Juma Al Za'abi, Deputy Minister for Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Committee of the President's Initiatives, accompanied Sheikh Mansour on the tour, which included hatcheries for diverse fish species.
Sheikh Mansour said the establishment of the centre reflected the President's attention to ''our national resources as a strategic reserve for future generations.'' He also praised the Committee for its relentless efforts to implement the President's initiatives.
Further, Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, said the government has adopted a long-term strategy to guarantee food and environmental security in order to protect, develop and sustain national resources for future generations.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, aquaculture will supply more than 50% of the world's fish consumption in the years ahead.
He added that with the decrease in fish stocks due to overfishing, and increasing demand for seafood, aquaculture technology has been receiving greater attention throughout the world.
The Minister noted that over-exploitation of marine resources and deterioration of some eco-systems were among the pressing challenges facing the UAE. A comparison between a study conducted by the FAO in 1978 and a GCC survey from 2008 to 2011, showed a marked fall of 25.2% in the amount of fish caught in the UAE, while fish stocks found living in lower depths dropped by 88% and 94%, respectively, in UAE territorial waters overlooking the Arabian Gulf and Sea of Oman.
These studies, he warned, alerted scientists about the prospect of the disappearance of fish at lower depths if the current level of deterioration continues. Such a situation will create an imbalance in the food security situation, even as food security remains a key strategic objective of the ministry.
The Minister added that the world-class facility constitutes a qualitative addition to efforts for development of national research in conservation and protection of the marine environment and resources.
The centre, being built with a grant from the President, will begin hatching fingerlings by the end of the year.
In the first year, he added, the centre will hatch 3,5 million fingerlings from commercial fish species, 6.5 million in the following year, and progressing until production reaches 10 million in the third year.
Also, a study will be conducted to identify the best breeding locations to release the fingerlings.