Following the environmental problems caused by fish farming off the coast of Eilat, a new project is being developed to create large underwater fish farms off the coast of Ashdod, that are expected to produce thousands of tons of quality fresh fish annually. The specially designed growth cages will be able to withstand the turbulence caused to winter storms which occur often in the eastern Mediterranean, enabling the developing fish to not be injured during these occurrences.
Fish farming, or aquaculture, is nothing new to Israel, where fresh water fish such as carp and amnon (St. Peters fish) have been grown in ponds for years. While fish ponds have been fine for these species, more exotic types, such as sea bream (Denis) sea bass, and others, must have circulating salt water in order to survive. Fish farming in the Gulf of Eilat, while initially successful, has turned into an environmental nightmare resulting in the severe depletion of Eilat’s marine life, especially the coral reefs. By having larger surface areas to utilize, the planned Mediterranean fish farms, if properly constructed, can reduce the environmental problems created in the Gulf of Eilat, where the marine surface area is smaller and often shallower.
Upon completion, these new ‘aqua farms’ can supply not only Israel’s needs for quality fish products, but can turn into a very profitable export industry as well. With in onset of Avian or ‘bird flu’ in many parts of the world, including Israel, many people are switching from poultry to fish as a needed source of protein. Marine biologists and agricultural experts agree that growing fish at sea instead of in ponds is very beneficial as the seas currents provide a constant source of oxygen that has had to produce artificially in land based fish framing. The marine fish farms also enable a greater variety of fish to be produced, and a higher quality as well. Anyone who likes fish can testify that sea raised fish taste much better than those raised in ponds.
If successful, the new aqua farming venture will not only contribute towards providing food for Israel’s growing population, but will add another valuable product to the country’s basket of export products. Other countries are also looking for more viable forms of marine aquaculture, since natural fish populations have been depleted due to pollution and global warming. If Israel’s new venture proves successful, it will become beneficial to these countries as well.