CAIRO – 24 August 2018: Egypt’s National Research Center (NRC) signed a protocol with WorldFish Center, a scientific organization in Malaysia, with the aim of enhancing research and training capabilities in the field of ichthyology, the scientific study of fish.
According to an August report issued Thursday by the NRC’s Director Ashraf Shaalan, the protocol with the WorldFish Center, an organization working on improving fisheries to combat hunger and poverty, aims to focus on the health of tilapia fish, which is a significant species of fish for Egyptian people, especially because of its cheap price and wide availability in Egyptian waters. The report was sent to the Egyptian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Abdel Ghaffar.
Caring about the health of tilapia fish will result in an increase in fish production, to keep up with the demand of the Egyptian community in a cheap price and high quality. The tilapia fish industry worldwide is valued at $7.5 billion per year, according to an earlier report by WorldFish Center.
The protocol between the two organizations urges mutual cooperation in the field of the health of marine organisms through exchanging scientists, technology and scientific information and researches. Moreover, mutual research projects will be carried out, according to the report.
The protocol was signed by Shaalan and Gareth Johnstone, the director general for WorldFish.
Amid a noticeable rise in mortalities in farmed tilapia in Egypt in the recent years, WorldFish reported in March 2017, that Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) has reached the country.
Some scientists think there is a link between the newly emerged virus which is responsible for the significant destruction of some population of tilapia fish in fish farms, and the surge in tilapia mortalities of the farmed tilapia in Egypt.
WorldFish Center reported that 37 percent of fish farms were affected in 2015, according to epidemiological reports, with an average mortality rate of 9.2 percent, and an economic loss of about $100 million per year.
The Malaysian center highlighted the importance of identifying the cause of the significant deaths of tilapia in Egypt, adding that “Egypt depends on domestic aquaculture for 60 percent of fish consumed, with tilapia making up 75 percent of that production.”
In numbers, Egypt’s fish production increases
The Egyptian official Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) reported that fish production in Egypt increased from about 1.3 million metric tons in 2010, at a value of about LE 15 billion ($837.43 million), to about 1.8 million metric tons in 2017.
Witnessing President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s keenness to expand fish farms, which reportedly produce about 75 percent of the total fish production, experts from the ministry of agriculture expected that fish production will highly increase during the next few years.
Experts argue that the expected increase will help decrease imports of fish and allow the state to later export part of its fish production. According to reports, Egypt will be able to produce about 2.3 million metric tons of fish in 2020.
Head of Fish Division at Cairo Chamber of Commerce Ahmed Jaafar said in May that the volume of fish imports decreased to 250,000 tons annually from 400,000 tons.
Jaafar attributed the decline to import control implemented in the past two years. The annual consumption of fish is about 2 million tons, according to the head of the Fish Division at the Cairo Chamber of Commerce.
Jaafar attributed the stabilization of fish prices to the start of production in the farms of Berket Ghalioun at the Kafr El-Sheikh Governorate.