In a bid to develop Iraq's fishing industry, the Anbar provincial council on Monday (January 28th) opened a scientific laboratory, a research and development centre and four large fish farms.
The laboratory is in the city of Ramadi, while the fish farms are in Heet, Fallujah, al-Qaim and Ramadi, officials said.
These projects were launched in co-operation with the Agricultural Department and other government agencies, Anbar provincial council deputy chairman Saadoun Obaid al-Shaalan told Mawtani.
The laboratory will be used to study the life cycles of fish, conduct periodic testing and provide diagnosis and treatment for diseases that afflict fish, he said.
The research centre is studying and evaluating the fish industry and looking for ways to increase the types and quantity of fish, he said.
It also is supporting fish farm owners in Anbar through the introduction of modern methods, thereby boosting the industry and helping the country's economy.
Additionally, the centre will offer advice, instruction and information to Anbar fish farmers on how to raise various types of fish, prevent diseases and increase the varieties, he said.
"The scientific laboratory will focus on studying the fish, meeting the needs of fish farm owners and fishermen by providing treatment for their fish," Lateef Mahmoud, director of the fish laboratory in Ramadi, told Mawtani.
The lab also will seek ways to conserve species threatened with extinction, he said, in addition to setting up teams that will pay regular visits to fish farms in Anbar.
"The fish industry requires more support from the governments of Baghdad and Anbar, particularly in increasing the number of fish farms, backing farm owners and banning unlicensed fishing," Mahmoud said.
Other areas that need to be addressed include the trespassing of water surfaces in the Euphrates River and the two lakes of al-Habbaniyah and al-Tharthar, as well as the future construction of major developmental projects, he said.
"Fish wealth has become an essential artery in the economies of all countries and a major source of vitamin-rich food , which makes it imperative to build projects that support and develop this industry in Anbar," Soufouk al-Nuaimi, director of the Fish Research Centre in Anbar, told Mawtani,
"The rise in water levels of the Euphrates River during this winter season and heavy rainfall will be important factors behind the growth and increase in the numbers of fish," al-Nuaimi said.
"The reproduction season is near, which is why it was necessary to launch and open these projects, such as the laboratory, the research centre, the hatching farms and the man-made fish farms," he said.
A committee composed of Anbar University scientists completed a study on production methods and ways to maintain a healthy level of fish population, he said.
The group identified steps to be followed in marketing and selling that would keep the fish population from becoming depleted, he added.
"Boosting the fish industry will contribute towards strengthening the Iraqi economy, which consumes thousands of tonnes of fish daily," al-Nuaimi said. "This requires massive projects to lower [reliance on] the quantities of imported fish, while working on exporting quantities of fish from Iraq to external markets to create financial revenues for the state and the local companies."