UAE-based Dibba Bay Oysters has achieved Friend of the Sea aquaculture certification, becoming the only certified aquaculture farm in the region. “Our sustainable policies, waste management standards and social responsibilities have earned us the Friend of the Sea Sustainable Aquaculture certification,” they announced.
“The Friend of the Sea certification covers our sustainable oyster aquaculture, which encompasses the Crassostrea Gigas species. The certification also covers our packing and export operations, with traceability being a key focus, as 50% of our production is exported to Hong Kong, Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, Oman and other destinations,” they detailed.
Dibba Bay Oysters is currently the only farm in the Middle East growing oysters on a commercial scale for human consumption. Located in Fujairah, on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates, it produces around 300,000 oysters per month and continues to expand its production.
‘Friend of the Sea’ is the leading global standard for certifying products and services that respect and protect the marine environment. “We are proud to be the first farm in the region to earn this certification,” they said in releasing the news.
Strict sustainable policies
To be a ‘Friend of the Sea’ certified institution, aquaculture facilities must meet strict sustainable policies, waste management standards and social responsibilities.
Friend of the Sea’s Sustainable Aquaculture Certification criteria involve an environmental impact assessment that must confirm no impact on critical habitat, compliance with water quality parameters, no use of antifoulants or harmful growth hormones, compliance with water quality management, social responsibility, and continuous improvement in waste and energy management.
“Our mission as an oyster farm has always been to protect our oceans and to involve sustainable practices in all aspects of our business to safeguard the integrity of aquatic life. We are proud to have ‘Friend of the Sea’ recognize our sustainable farming practices. It is important to us to have an accredited third party certifying our work; demonstrated sustainability with a third-party certification will help consumers make more conscious choices,” said Ramie Murray, founder and CEO of Dibba Bay Oysters.
A broad commitment to the environment
As part of its waste management program, dried oyster shells from Dibba Bay are being returned to the ocean in 80-cm-high, non-polluting gabion cylinders that act as building blocks to protect coral reefs in Dibba, Fujairah. The shell structures provide a substrate for coral growth and new habitat for marine life.
“Obtaining this certificate demonstrates not only that Dibba Bay runs a responsible farming operation to ‘Friend of the Sea’ standards, but also that the company has a broader commitment to protecting the environment,” said Paolo Bray, founder of Friend of the Sea.
As the first farm in the UAE to receive ‘Friend of the Sea’ certification, Dibba Bay supports the country’s food security goals by providing a certified sustainable food product for local and international consumption.
Inspired by the pearl diving heritage of the UAE
In 2016, the company’s founder, Ramie Murray, pioneered the pivot from the traditional Arabian pearl oyster industry to the farming of an edible oyster species. Thanks to the unique conditions of the ocean, which made Arabia world-renowned for its lustrous white pearls, the Dibba Bay oyster is thriving and continues to showcase the heritage of the region through its distinctive and vibrant white and gold shell.
“The unique qualities of the waters of the Emirates, which have been historically through the legendary white pearls, now live on through the Dibba Bay oyster shell.”
Nestled between the extraordinary backdrop of the Hajar Mountains and the glistening Indian Ocean, the farm consists of nine hectares of offshore concessions, in the pristine waters of Dibba which are home to a diverse marine life and coral reefs. The oysters are grown in extremely clean seawater along a sparsely populated coastline.
Their site is relatively shallow but only meters away from extremely deep water off the continental shelf, which allows for an abundance of food to arrive on cool deep-sea currents. Thanks to the purity of the water and the abundance of plankton, their oysters quickly grow into a world-class product with exceptional meat ratio, beautiful clean white shells, and a delicious fresh taste.