Israel’s Arava desert gets just 30 millimeters of rainfall a year, but it produces 60 percent of Israel’s fresh vegetable exports, 10% of cut flower exports … and now it has a thriving ornamental fish industry, too.
“The desert is dry and all the water that we have here first of all is water that we drill here in the Arava; we’re not connected to a national water system,” explains Alon Gadiel, director of the Arava Research and Development Center. Yet Israel is in the top six exporting countries for aquarium fish, and there are now 18 fish farms in the Arava. Three of them breed the clownfish better known as Nemos because of the hit movie “Finding Nemo.”
“A business like aquaculture is a very good business because you don’t need a lot of land, and you don’t need a lot of water. You need a lot of knowledge,” says Gadiel. In addition, he stresses, “We breed fish that originally grow in the sea, and we sell them from captivity so we prevent harming the ecosystem.”