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Climate change threatens Qatar's fish farming

This is Qatar's first offshore fish farm.

It uses floating cages technology to produce 2,000 tonnes of fish annually.

But its owners are hoping to double that number by expanding the project - in order to meet a growing demand for fresh fish in local markets and maintain stocks in offshore Gulf waters in the face of climate change.

Warming waters, damage to coral reefs and overfishing could cause a 30% decline in future fish catch potential in Qatari waters by the end of the century.

That’s according to Pedro Range, Research Assistant Professor at Qatar University.

"The fish stocks in Qatar are like everywhere else in the world not in a very healthy state. So there's been many years of very strong exploitation and that of course reflected in the declines somehow in the fisheries catches in

the past decades…Although the fish species in Qatar are physiologically adapted to extreme conditions, they are probably also very close to the limits of what they can tolerate."

Al-Qumra launched Samkna fish farm last November.

The company said the project’s location – 30 miles offshore from Qatar’s Ruwais region - is characterized by cool water currents to achieve the best water quality and ensure shorter growth periods for the fish.

But Range said it’s not enough to simply rely on local fish preservation efforts.

"In terms of climate change unfortunately the actions we can take at the local scale are irrelevant. Only on the global scale can these actions have a real effect on climate change. What we can do is control local pressures that

interact with climate change in terms of controlling the fishery stocks and habitat availability".

A University of British Columbia study in 2018 found that a third of marine species is at risk of becoming extinct in the Gulf by 2090.

Al-Qumra is waiting on permits to build new cages which the company said would enable them to meet 60% of local demand in five years’ time.