Aquaculture was practiced in Egypt more than 4000 years ago. In recent years, the first aquaculture trials were carried out in 1934, while the first commercial fish farm was established in 1954. Since then, aquaculture in Egypt witnessed outstanding development, especially during the last three decades. As a result, aquaculture production jumped from only 62,000 tons in 1990 to 1,641,949 tons in 2019. This production puts Egypt on top of Africa’s aquaculture output, with a share of 69% in 2019. Egypt is also ranked 7th among the top global aquaculture producers, and 3rd in tilapia production, after only China and Indonesia.
Semi-intensive production in earthen ponds is the most commonly used aquaculture system in Egypt. This system accounted for 87% of total aquaculture output in 2019. Intensive farming in cages, tanks and ponds, and integrated farming with other crops (mainly rice fields) is also widely practiced. Despite 16 aquatic species currently being farmed in Egypt, Nile tilapia remains the most important, contributing 66% to total aquaculture production in 2019. Carp and mullet are also widely cultured, mostly in polyculture systems with tilapia. About 65% of total aquaculture output comes from brackish water. However, aquaculture of marine species such as European seabass, gilthead seabream, meagre and shrimp are also gaining tremendous momentum and expanding at amazing rates.
To meet the demand for fish seed, hundreds of hatcheries for freshwater and marine species have been constructed throughout the country, especially in the major production areas (Northern Delta
regions). In parallel, to meet the demand for high-quality feeds, the aquafeed subsector has received considerable attention since the mid-1990s, when feed extrusion technology was introduced into the country. Currently, there are over 100 feed mills in operation, in addition to a few others under construction. They produce about 1.4 million tons of high-quality floating and sinking aquafeeds for all farmed species annually. Some aquafeed companies are currently exporting a portion of their production to other countries, especially in Africa.
In a country with such huge aquaculture attributes and potential, it was no surprise that the African Chapter of World Aquaculture Society selected Egypt as the host of its first international conference and exhibition, Aquaculture Africa 2021 – AFRAQ21. The conference will be held in Alexandria Library (Bibliotheca Alexandrina) located in the city of Alexandria, the Pride of the Mediterranean Sea, from December 11-14, 2021.
The conference offers a great opportunity for aquaculture researchers, practitioners, decision-makers and other stakeholders to network and discuss all aspects of aquaculture in Africa. Aquaculture tours and visits to fish farms and feed mills will be arranged. Special visits to the most famous touristic attractions in Egypt will also be arranged.
Author: Abdel-Fattah M. El-Sayed, Oceanography Department, Faculty of Science, Alexandria University, Egypt.