An Aquaculture Strategy has been launched today by the Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights Roderick Galdes. In it the plans include the construction of a commercial scale marine hatchery, and a strengthened administrative and regulatory framework with leadership consolidated within the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department.
The Maltese aquaculture industry is an industry of great importance for the economy of Malta. It has developed from a sea bass and sea bream industry from the early 1990’s to an industry that also produces capture based Blue-fin tuna since 2000.
During a press conference held at Torri San Lucjan, the Parliamentary Secretary explained that the industry presently has 6 farms producing blue-fin tuna, sea bream, sea bass, and meagre.
A total of around 7,400 tons with a total value of €108.4 million are produced. The production of Blue-fin tuna, which comprises 3,900 tons is capture based while the other species are produced through closed cycle.
The Parliamentary Secretary said that during the past few years, it was identified that there was a need for a strategy to lay down a way forward. “Malta is among the first European countries to formulate and develop an aquaculture strategy, the draft of which was finalised in March 2012 by Stirling Aquaculture of Scotland.”
This comprehensive study was funded through the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) and involved a series of studies and consultations with different stakeholders. A Strategic Environmental Assessment was also conducted followed by an Environmental Report.
The final strategy, laid down for the period from 2014 – 2025, focuses on the development of the sector to further innovation and competitiveness. Seven areas have been identified as important to the sector:
• Aquaculture industry identified as an important maritime sector
• Steering growth towards sustainability
• Clarity in regulation
• Appropriate locations for aquaculture zones
• New potential for growth
• Sustainability through improved environmental management
• Competitiveness through innovation
In seeking to improve environmental monitoring and developing carrying capacities of aquaculture zones, this strategy will contribute to define the limits of sustainability of our marine waters and help Malta in its effort towards meeting the national objective of achieving Good Environmental Status under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
The strategy will involve research development, human resource development, fish product diversification and improving the image of aquaculture, in order to improve the sector’s competitiveness at a national and regional level.
“With these aspects in mind, Malta targets to produce 5,000 tons per year of closed cycle species by 2020 while maintaining current levels of the capture based species (tuna), the Parliamentary Secretary said.
“This will lead to approximately 1,185 full time equivalent direct and indirect jobs with a potential to provide a gross Value Added of over €70 million to the economy,” Roderick Galdes concluded.