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National center for Mariculture

The National Center for Mariculture (NCM), located on the North Beach of the town of Eilat develops technologies for rearing marine fish and other marine species having a high economic value. Studies carried out at NCM provide the infrastructure for the development of mariculture in Israel as a novel agricultural branch utilizing marine and brackish water and for the establishment of associated biotechnological industries.

The NCM is made up of nine research groups working together to domesticate marine species for grow-out as agricultural products. The main research areas include: control of fish reproduction, larval rearing, genetic improvement of fish, development of feeds for fish and fingerlings, development of systems for intensive fish growth and of integrated systems for growth of fish, mollusks and algae.

The main research effort at NCM today focuses on developing an environmentally friendly land-based system for rearing fish in seawater ponds. This novel technology includes biological purification of the effluents of the system, which are partly recycled through the grow-out systems with the remainder being returned to the sea without causing any environmental damage. Completion of this development will allow the construction of many commercial farms in the nearby southern Arava region and along the Mediterranean coastline. In order to examine the commercial feasibility of this technology, a pilot project on a semi- commercial scale (100 tons/year) is being carried out at NCM.

The professional staff at NCM includes about 50 scientists, research assistants and technicians with varied backgrounds in different areas of marine biology and other scientific disciplines. In addition, students from Israeli and foreign institutions of high education are carrying out research projects for advanced degrees (M.Sc. and Ph.D.) under the supervision of NCMs scientists. The NCM cooperates with universities, research institutes and commercial companies working in the fields of mariculture and marine biotechnology around the world and provides consulting and training services in developing countries.

The research infrastructure at NCM includes analytical laboratories (chemistry & biology), experimental laboratories and a wide range of installations for experiments with flowing seawater (tanks & ponds). The NCM Library holds books, scientific journals and professional publications fields of mariculture and marine biology and is open to the public.

Results of NCMs R&D are transferred to commercial enterprises through know-how transfer agreements. NCMs scientists provide these enterprises with professional support and accompany the implementation of the know-how. To date, NCM expertise has helped establish fish hatcheries in Eilat and on the Mediterranean coast, fish cage farms in the Gulf of Eilat, an abalone farm on the Mediterranean coast, and experimental fish ponds in Eilat and on the Mediterranean coast. In addition, two biotechnological startup companies are operating today within NCM cooperating with NCM scientists to develop biotechnological products for the mariculture industry (feeds for young fish and products to enhance fish reproduction).

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