The Global Aquaculture Alliance (GAA) strengthened its ties with Saudi Arabia’s new aquaculture leadership and major industry stakeholders at a Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) conference at the Burj Rafal Hotel Kempinski in Riyadh in early September.

GAA, which in January signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Aquaculture Society (SAS) that will require the country’s aquaculture facilities to earn Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certification, met with H.E. Ahmed Al-Eiadh, the new deputy minister of the recently empowered Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.

SAS and the Aquaculture Department of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (ADMEWA) understand that aquaculture can be expanded in Saudi Arabia, but only if it is done sustainably and responsibly.

“After the conference I met with representatives of the Saudi Aquaculture Society, consultants and the government, and I was happy to know that we all agreed to go ahead and continue with the project,” said Marcos Moya, manager of BAP supply development.

Also present at the meeting were the national director of Saudi Arabia’s food safety agency, major marketplace representatives like Carrefour,Panda and Danubio, as well as owners and production managers of aquaculture operations throughout Saudi Arabia.

As part of the MoU, all existing Saudi Arabia processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills will be required to attain BAP certification, and BAP certification will be a condition of licensing new aquaculture facilities by ADMEWA. Effectively, the commitment establishes the BAP third-party certification program as the national standard for all Saudi Arabia aquaculture facilities.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has pledged to grow its seafood production to 600,000 metric tons by 2030, in an effort not only to diversify its economic and productive activities but also in the aim of providing the national, regional and ultimately the wider international markets with aquaculture products of the highest standards, in terms of sustainable use of resources, food safety and nutritional value.

At the end of August, 1,376 processing plants, farms, hatcheries and feed mills were BAP-certified. BAP is the world’s most comprehensive third-party aquaculture certification program, with standards encompassing environmental responsibility, social responsibility, food safety, animal health and welfare and traceability.