FAO Workshop on Marine Cage Culture

Overall production capacity of Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf and Oman Sea is estimated at about one million tons.
Overall production capacity of Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf and Oman Sea is estimated at about one million tons.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations is conducting a four-day technical workshop on marine cage culture in Tehran through which the FAO will provide technical assistance to build a framework aimed to develop Iran’s mariculture industry.

The four-day ‘Technical Workshop on Marine Cage Culture in the Islamic Republic of Iran’ (Sept. 26-29) has been organized by the Iran Fisheries Organization (SHILAT) of the Ministry of Agriculture Jihad with the support of FAO’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Department.

Mariculture is a specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine organisms for food and other products in the open ocean, an enclosed section of the ocean, or in tanks, ponds or raceways which are filled with seawater

In his opening remarks to the workshop, FAO Representative in Iran Serge Nakouzi, underscored the increasingly significant role played by aquaculture and notably by mariculture in ensuring global and national food security amidst a growing demand over the past 20 years, which is projected to grow even further as the world’s population reaches 9.7 billion by 2050.

He stressed in this connection that recent studies have predicted a considerable increase in fish consumption in developing and developed countries during the coming decades.

“World per capita fish supply reached a new record high of 20 kg in 2014, thanks to vigorous growth in aquaculture, which now provides half of all fish for human consumption globally,” Nakouzi said, the reported.

He said developing marine cage culture in Iran would benefit the country in responding to its growing demand for aquaculture products.

Iran has some 50 years’ experience in aquaculture, mainly in pond culture of freshwater fish including major Chinese carps and the rainbow trout, and production of stocking fingerlings in the Caspian Sea.

  Production Capacity 1m Tons

Dr. Hassan Salehi, the head of SHILAT, said the overall production capacity of Caspian Sea, Persian Gulf and Oman Sea is estimated at about one million tons while the production target for the next five years has been set to around 200,000 tons.

Alessandro Lovatelli, the FAO Aquaculture Officer is leading the workshop where a considerable number of experts from policymaking organizations, consultant companies, cage manufacturers, fish farmers, fry producers, and officials from the Iran Fisheries Organization are participating.

The first cage farms were established 40 years ago in a reservoir of Karoon River in Khuzestan Province, southwest of the country. In the 1980s, the use of homemade cages with traditional material expanded in inland waters for trout rearing.

Marine cage culture has a relatively short history in the country. Early research activities on marine cage culture date back to the early 1990s when the Iranian Research Institute (IFRO) established some small experimental cages for the rearing of wild fish juveniles.

In 2001, a contract was signed between the SHILAT and a Norwegian company to conduct a general survey of the coastal areas of the country. This survey gave SHILAT a general overview on the development potential of marine fish cage farming.

Iran is one of the most important aquaculture producing countries in the Persian Gulf region. Aquaculture production increased rapidly from 3,219 tons in 1978 to 371,840 tons in 2014, representing approximately 39.2% of the total fish production.