After decades of negligence, Egypt's government has been implementing a progressive plan to improve Egyptian lakes in order to increase fish output and exports, according to Salah Al-Mislhy, chairman of the General Authority for Fish Resources and Development (GAFRD).
"The development and protection of lakes in Egypt has become a top priority concern, and the GAFRD, the Armed Forces Engineering Authority, the Suez Canal Authority, and some private companies have collaborated on doing this," Al-Mislhy told Xinhua.
Egypt has a number of freshwater, brackish and salt lakes, including Maryut, Edko, Manzala, Borolus, Bardawil in north Cairo, Al-Timsah and Great Bitter Lake in Ismailia Governorate and Qaroun, Wadi El-Rayan and Lake Nasser in southern Egypt.
"Egypt's lakes contribute about 12 percent of Egypt's fish resources," said Salah Al-Mislhy. He predicted that the development of some lakes, such as Bardawil, Borolus, and Manzala, would be completed by the end of 2022, while Maryut would be finished by the end of 2023.
The cost of developing lakes varies depending on the conditions of each lake, he said, adding that only expanding and renovating 250,000 feddans (105,000 hectares) of Lake Manzala cost 2 billion U.S. dollars.
Al-Mislhy emphasised that the effects of developing lakes were monitored even before all of the work was finalised.
"Lake Manzala produced 82,500 tonnes of fish in 2020, compared to 60,000 tonnes in 2017," he said, adding that more fishing boats would be able to operate if further efforts are made in developing the lake.
According to Al-Mislhy, Egypt's water resources supply 20 percent of the country's fish: 12 percent from lakes, four percent from the Nile River, two percent from the Red Sea, and two percent from the Mediterranean Sea.
Egypt's per capita fish consumption in 2021 was 20.5 Kilograms per year, up from 16 kilograms the previous year.
Egypt's fish production exceeded 2.2 million tonnes in 2021, according to Al-Mislhy, who expected the amount of production to further rise in 2022, and reach 2.5 million tonnes by 2025.
Egypt's fish production has increased dramatically in recent years as a result of the government's efforts to expand fish plantation initiatives. The fish wealth in Egypt is witnessing a major leap in the past few years in light of the government endeavors for increasing fish plantation projects, he said.
Egypt opened in the past few years several projects in aquaculture like Ghalyoun Lake in Kafr El-Sheikh Governorate and Al-Fayrouz project in Port Said Governorate. The latter is the largest of its kind in the Middle East, and a third such project in the Suez Canal.
When those large projects reach full capacity, Al-Mislhy estimates that they will contribute more than 500,000 tonnes of fish to the market. Aquaculture investment in Egypt, he said, is a promising field with accessible resources. Egypt will soon unveil significant national projects for marine cages in 21 locations, including 12 in the Mediterranean Sea and nine in the Red Sea, which will serve as important fish production sources, said Al-Mislhy.