Dubai desert salmon goes on sale in Spinneys supermarkets

UAE’s first locally produced salmon from Fish Farm went on sale on Thursday

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Up until Thursday, scouring the supermarket shelves for a nice salmon meant opting for an Alaskan fillet or a fish from Norway, Scotland or Chile.

But now seafood lovers are able to enjoy a taste of home by dining on fresh fish bred in the UAE.

A Dubai based company, Fish Farm, has grown organic salmon from a hatchery in Jebel Ali and put them on sale at branches of UAE supermarket chain, Spinneys.

Growing salmon in the desert is a global first and the team has been working towards this goal for a year-and-a-half.

Fish Farm has been growing organic sea bass, sea bream and hammour for the past four years in the UAE.

Cultivating salmon in UAE will help save energy as the fish doesn't have to be transported across thousands of kilometres and is a boost to the country's long-term food security.

Bader Mubarak, chief executive officer of Fish Farm, hopes the venture will help to address the UAE's import dependency.

“Ninety-two per cent of the fish consumed in the UAE is imported and we aim to address this imbalance by showing how advanced technologies can mitigate the challenges of the natural environment," he said.

"Growing salmon to market size on land, ready for distribution to the markets of the UAE, is a global first, and we hope to show the region how this can be done on a sustainable and commercially successful basis."


Fish Farm salmon in Spinney's.

Fish Farm LLC is bringing home-grown salmon to the UAE's supermarkets and restaurants, with positive implications for food security.

 (Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

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Fish Farm salmon is being produced in the UAE, giving consumers a home-grown alternative to fish flown over from other parts of the world. Reem Mohammed/The National

Fish Farm is aiming to produce about 10,000 to 15,000kg of salmon each month.

Nigel Lewis, aquaculture and technical manager at Fish Farm, said being able to source salmon locally would improve the nation's carbon footprint.

He said the company has seen an exceptional response to the fish.

"It’s totally unique and it’s something that was considered impossible. We have achieved the impossible and made it a reality."

There are no chemicals and antibiotics used to produce the salmon at Fish Farm. They employ a closed system where they bring the water from the sea, sterilise it and then use it.

The company has signed a deal to sell its salmon exclusively at Spinneys stores with plans for its produce to be put on the menu at local restaurants also in the pipeline.

The fish will be priced at Dh99 per kg, which is more expensive than Norwegian salmon priced at Dh65 per kg but less expensive that organic Irish salmon priced at Dh128 per kg.

Doua Benhida, founder of the Zero Waste Collective, the UAE’s first collective supporting local start ups that offer zero waste alternatives, has backed the move.

"This gives an option for people like me or my family who have stopped eating fish due to plastic pollution. I am a vegetarian but if this works out, then I wouldn’t mind my son having some."

Chris Lester, an Australian lawyer who was at an event launch for UAE salmon at the Umm Suqeim branch of Spinneys, believes it is a valuable addition to the products on offer at the supermarket.

"I buy fish here three to four times a week so its great to have locally sourced fish," he said.

"The pricing is not too bad and it’s less expensive than some other salmon.

"It’s exciting. People like to buy locally sourced fish. Most of the fish that we buy here is not sustainable, like the red snapper and hammour."

Tom Harvey, commercial manager of the protein section at Spinneys said customers will benefit from fresh produce while doing their bit to help the planet.

"This is the way we can give customers in the UAE the freshest fish and it reduces the food miles the food travels."