Any new projects must also become certified in order to receive government approval. According to a statement from the Saudi Aquaculture Society, the agreement will “enhance the responsible and sustainable expansion of all facilities related to aquaculture” in the country.
The new certification regime comes into effect through a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Aquaculture Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Saudi Aquaculture Society and the Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA), operator of the BAP standard.
Massive growth expected
“We are delighted to have been selected to work with the aquaculture industry of in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a resource in support of its planned growth to 600,000 metric tonnes of seafood production. The commitment of the Aquaculture Department of the Ministry of Agriculture along with that of the Saudi Arabian Aquaculture Society combined with our resolve is a powerful example of what it takes to achieve great results,” said Wally Stevens, executive director of GAA.
BAP certification is designed to ensure any fishing or aquaculture production is safe and environmentally sustainable. The standards which make up BAP certification cover issues such as animal welfare, environmental impact and labour standards, and are enforced through regular inspections.
Saudi Arabia is focusing a lot of attention on aquaculture at the moment, with ambitious growth targets, including the aim of reaching 600,000 tonnes of seafood production by 2030. Last year an official from the Ministry of Agriculture said he expected to see around US$8bn (€7.16bn) in aquaculture investments across the kingdom in the next 15 years.
Naqua’s four-star shrimp
One aquaculture producer in Saudi Arabia has already gained BAP certification. Last year the National Aquaculture Group (Naqua) achieved four-star certification – the highest available level – for its shrimp production, and three-star certification for its barramundi production, the first company in the world to achieve this.
“At National Aquaculture Group, we pursue a strong approach on high quality and food safety, environment and organisation sustainability. Naqua’s BAP certification is a proof of company’s compliance toward all global regulatory and industrial norms for a sustainable aquaculture system,” said Nasir Hameed, director of corporate quality and sustainability at Naqua.
“Naqua is committed to produce the best possible quality of aquaculture products for our customers and consumers, and BAP certification is a big step to fulfil our promise,” he added.