Sea cucumber farming can help meet the market's demand. (Photo: National Prawn Company)
Farming sea cucumbers offers high expectations
Friday, May 17, 2013, 03:10 (GMT + 9)
National Prawn Company (NPC) has been able to farm sea cucumbers (Holothuria Scabra) in Saudi Arabia after three years of research and development and thus ensuring the sustainability of this business.
The firm has achieved the biological cycle of the species in harvest conditions and 90 tonnes are expected to be collected within the first year of the project.
NPC believes this project will guarantee a sustainable marine culture to fulfill the market’s demand and maintain a balanced marine life.
“We own the pride of achieving such a big project which is one of its kind in the region. It has consumed more than three years of constant researching and experimenting carried by a team of professionals in the field of aquaculture,” Engineer Ahmad R Al-Ballaa, Managing Director of NPC and board chairman of Saudi Aquaculture Society, said.
“Our first steps and achievements on this long path were the ones towards a successful shrimp project which are followed by the fish projects that are getting thumbs up worldwide. An additional milestone in this journey in the Saudi land known for its fertile nature would be the sea cucumber brood stock’s ability to lay its eggs, producing herewith 23 million larvae,” he continued.
This amount will ensure the availability of sea cucumbers for coming years of wild mothers, which belong to the different strains gathered from different coasts, Al-Ballaa explained.
Manager of the sea cucumber project Mario Umundab agreed that it was not an easy feat: he said that breeding sea cucumbers in high-saline water and a very hot environment is difficult.
“Attentive monitoring on a daily basis for three consecutive years was a mandatory task that played a major role in guaranteeing its survival. It was a major reward for quite a hardworking and sacrificing team that has set a sustainable marine life development as one of its main goals,” he stated.
Sea cucumbers are new to Saudi consumers and they are not yet being traded in the local market, which is why NPC is currently targeting overseas markets that already have a high demand for the product, including China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Separately, sea cucumbers also provide environmental benefits: an adult sea cucumber can purify 4 tonnes of sand each year, as it naturally whirls the sand to find its daily supply of food, which turns out to be the best way to purify sand and eliminate organic residues. The sea cucumber’s twirling and daily hunt maintains seawater’s balanced pH and helps separate petroleum waste into small dumplings that sink to the sea floor.
By Natalia Real