TRSDC, BPE Partner for Desert Aquaculture in Saudi Arabia
Land-based Automated Recirculating Aquaculture

The Land-based Automated Recirculating Aquaculture (LARA) system works by replicating natural aquatic ecosystems.

The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) has announced signing two memorandums of understanding with Silicon Valley-based, aquaculture specialists Blue Planet Ecosystems (BPE) to provide sustainable production of seafood and algae in a desert environment.

TRSDC, which was established in 2017 to drive the development of The Red Sea Project, is creating a luxury tourism destination that intends to set new standards in sustainable development and position Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.

The project will be developed over 28,000 km² of pristine lands and waters along Saudi Arabia’s west coast and includes a vast archipelago of more than 90 islands with mountain canyons, dormant volcanoes, and ancient cultural and heritage sites. The destination will include hotels, residential properties, leisure, commercial and entertainment amenities, as well as supporting infrastructure that emphasizes renewable energy and water conservation/re-use.

“In response to growing consumer demand for sustainable protein during their travel experiences and to support our regenerative ambitions, TRSDC strives to explore innovative technology solutions,” said the CEO of TRSDC, John Pagano. “Our partnership with Blue Planet Ecosystems, means working together to set a new global standard in sustainable, multitrophic desert aquaculture where we can literally turn sunlight into seafood.”

A primary component of the development is the Land-based Automated Recirculating Aquaculture (LARA) system that works by replicating natural aquatic ecosystems in a modular and automated system. LARA converts CO₂ directly into chemical-free seafood using phyto and zooplankton as transitional stages.

The system is constructed of a tower of three horizontal units. The top unit uses the sun’s energy to grow microalgae that drives the entire system. The microalgae are then moved to the next unit down, where it nourishes zooplankton. The zooplankton are then transported to the bottom unit, where they are eaten by fish.

“The LARA system has a minimal environmental footprint and will aid in carbon sequestration for our flagship destination as well as future projects on the Red Sea coast, in alignment with the company’s aspiration to achieve 100 percent carbon neutrality,” said Mr. Pagano.

The first phase of the project will be implemented as a 3,500m² pilot, to assess whether conditions at The Red Sea Project are suitable for the solution to work effectively and efficiently. This will be the first LARA pilot in the Middle East to undergo a commercial trial.

“It is fascinating to see what can be achieved when innovation meets a clear vision for a sustainable future,” said the CEO of Blue Planet Ecosystems, Paul Schmitzberger. “The Red Sea Project is demonstrating how the destination of the future will look and operate. At the Red Sea Project site, the conditions are perfect to pilot and establish our desert farming technology.”

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