Fish and the desert don't often go together, but a Sunshine Coast company has teamed up with Emirates Fish Farms to set up a grouper farm outside Abu Dhabi.
Buderim-based company RADAQUA has been working to deliver a seafood production facility in the desert outside Abu Dhabi to help address the issues associated with food security in the United Arab Emirates' arid conditions.
The Al Wathba site was one of the stops on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's Middle East trade mission where she met with UAE Minister of State for Future Food Security Mariam Al Mehairi and RADAQUA managing director Rod Missen to discuss the impact of the facility and expansion plans.
The company was first contracted in EFF in May 2015 to design, build and manage the 120-tonne 'proof of concept' grouper production facility.
Once complete, the facility achieved its target production size within 12 months and last year a hatchery facility was opened. The spawning of the hatchery's first batch of juveniles from local broodstock is due next month.
The production capability is expected to increase to 750 tonne a year by 2024 under a three-stage development schedule.
Mr Missen said it was an honour to work with Emirates Fish Farms on the project.
"The success of the project and Emirates Fish Farms' commitment to expanding the facilities to achieve commercial production levels will give us the opportunity to showcase the sustainable nature of land-based aquaculture as a solution capable of contributing to the secure supply of food in the future," he said.
Ms Palaszczuk said the UAE imports around 90 per cent of its food needs.
"Water scarcity and climate change have been identified as major hurdles to food security throughout the world, but particularly in the UAE," she said.
"RADAQUA is now working with Emirates Fish Farms to expand the existing aquaculture facility at Al Wathba to achieve a six-fold increase in its output in the years ahead.
Plans have also been approved for RADAQUA to design and build a prawn production facility at the Al Wathba site, with construction to commence in early 2020.