Bahrain, located in the Arabian Gulf, is composed of low‐lying islands made up primarily of sand covering limestone bedrock. The climate is extreme with seawater temperatures ranging between 8 and 38 °C. Seawater salinity ranges from about 40–60 p.p.t. Freshwater resources are limited with about half the freshwater consumed coming from desalinization plants. Total fish landings have increased over time with some fluctuations. Per caput consumption has dropped from a high of 27.2 kg/caput (1985) to 12.6 kg/caput (1997). Landings for certain preferred species have declined dramatically over the last 10 years. For example, total grouper landings have declined about 70% in 10 years. This has resulted in increased prices at the local market. Bahrain has no history or tradition of aquaculture. In 19 79, FAO conducted an initial assessment of aquaculture in Bahrain. This led to construction of basic laboratory facilities and some baseline aquaculture experiments. A second phase was started in the early 1990s that included establishing the National Mariculture Center (NaMaC). Initial work at NaMaC concentrated on small‐scale culture trials of orange‐spotted grouper, Epinephelus coioides, pearl‐spotted rabbitfish, Siganus canaliculatus and yellow‐finned black seabream, Acanthopagrus latus. Recently, NaMaC has been successful in mass culture of the sobaity bream, Sparidentex hasta. The initial 1979 FAO study recommended an economic assessment of aquaculture in Bahrain. An initial financial assessment was finally completed in 1994. At that time, hatchery and grow‐out production was not financially feasible. A subsequent grouper grow‐out production study indicated that if seed supplies could be assured, grow‐out operations might be financially feasible. Additional economic studies have been completed on feed and cage suppliers. In addition, local market surveys indicated good consumer acceptance of aquaculture products. Aquaculture management in Bahrain is under the Directorate of Fisheries. The goal of mariculture development in Bahrain is the establishment of a commercially viable private sector industry. This has yet to be achieved. Regulations for such an industry have been drafted, but have not yet been formalized. Bahrain has taken a long‐term perspective to aquaculture development. It has set up infrastructure and is developing technology to support commercial aquaculture. However, financial constraints have limited, but not stopped progress towards development of a commercially viable industry. As the economic conditions and the fisheries change, feasibility of such an industry should continue to improve.

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