EghtesadOnline: The construction of Iran’s biggest super-intensive fish farm commenced in the southern Khuzestan Province’s Gotvand County after a ground-breaking ceremony last week.
“This fish farm, in which 1.5 trillion rials ($5.2 million) will be invested, is to be constructed on a 50-hectare plot of land. The farm will produce 30 kilograms of fish in one cubic meter of water,” said Gholamreza Shariati, Khuzestan’s governor general.
The official added that when completed, the farm will yield 10,000 tons of seafood per year, IRNA reported.
“Our plan is to inaugurate the first phase with a production capacity of 1,000 tons in the next eight months,” Shariati said.
The whole project, with its pools, fish feed production factory, processing and packaging lines, ice production unit, warehouse and transportation facilities, is estimated to become complete within five years, creating 300 direct and 1,200 indirect jobs for locals upon completion.
A total of 146,000 tons of seafood worth $539 million were exported from Iran in the last Iranian year (March 2019-20), according to the head of Iran Fisheries Organization.
The figures show a respective rise of 1.41% and 2.06% in tonnage and value compared with the 143,970 tons of exports worth $528 million in the year before.
Iran is a major seafood producer in the region with trout, caviar and shrimp currently being the main exported products of the fisheries sector.
“Imports of seafood over the same period stood at around 29,000 tons worth $98.9 million,” Nabiollah Khounmirzaei was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
Imports increased by 41.28% in value compared with the figures for fiscal 2018-19.
According to the official, shrimp production will reach 52,000 tons by the end of the current Iranian year (March 20, 2021).
“Sturgeon production in 126 farms dedicated to this purpose across 21 provinces is estimated to reach 3,600 tons. Fish farming in cages will also yield 15,000 tons by the [Iranian] yearend.”
He noted that Iran Fisheries Organization has, so far, issued permits for tilapia cultivation in the provinces of Yazd, Qom, Semnan and South Khorasan, adding that the production of 5,000 tons of this fish species is predicted in the current Iranian year.
Khounmirzaei told IRNA that seafood production is estimated to reach 1.5 million tons by the end of the current year to register a 15% rise compared to the previous year's output.
“Aquaculture is predicted to account for 800,000 tons of the total sum and the remaining 700,000 tons will be harvested from water bodies. This means that for the first time, our production from seafood farms will surpass our fishing yield,” he said.
Iran’s seafood sector, he said, has created 233,059 direct and indirect jobs.
“Per capita seafood consumption in Iran has increased from the last fiscal year’s 12.1 kilograms per year to 13.3 kg this year,” he said.
Isa Golshahi, director general of IFO’s Seafood Quality Improvement, Processing and Market Promotion Department, said the organization aims to bring this figure close to the annual global average of 20 kilograms.
Over the past few years, Iran has set up cages for fish farming in the sea as well as water bodies behind dams, and is expanding the business as part of its plans to increase seafood production.
Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari Province in southwest Iran accounts for 40% of Iran's seafood production.
The province has the capacity to produce 240,000 tons of seafood per year.
Middle East's biggest seafood production units is active in the industrial city of Shahr-e Kord.
Located 97 km southwest of the central Iranian province of Isfahan, Shahr-e Kord ranks first in salmon production capacity.