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Industry Commemorates Twenty Years of Existence

by the Fish Site Editor
05 October 2009, at 1:00am

MALTA - last week, the aquaculture industry yesterday celebrated twenty years of existence.

Since its inception, the industry has grown from strength to strength, so much so that it currently enjoys a turnover of roughly €128 million, while its export share in the economy stands at around 4.6 per cent. Around 236 people are currently employed within the aquaculture industry.

According to The Malta Independent Online, there are six fish farms surrounding the Maltese waters, three which are centred on the capture and exportation of sea-bass and sea-bream, while the remaining three are orientated towards the capture and exportation of the blue-fin tuna.

Certain expenses incurred in the aquaculture production process include cage maintenance, health and safety, packaging, sea and air freight, marketing, accounting, licenses, environmental monitoring and many others.

“Malta is uniquely placed to capitalise on the excellent qualities and favourable temperatures of the surrounding sea water. This natural resource endowment gives the Maltese aquaculture industry a competitive edge over many of its international competitors,” said Professor Carmelo Agius, who had first set up the National Aquaculture Centre (NAC) at Fort San Lucjan in 1988.

“When the industry first started out 20 years ago we were lacking behind when compared to other countries. In spite of our limitations, we invested in new technologies and better infrastructure and this is why we are where we are today. We will continue defending the industry in whatever difficulties that may arise because it has enormous potentiality,” said Professor Agius.

MEP Professor Edward Scicluna further added that from 2005 until 2007, the industry roughly doubled both its turnover and its value-added contribution. Its direct share of the country’s GDP increased by 0.2 percentage points at a time when many other direct production sectors’ share in the GDP declined.

“The aquaculture industry is an activity in the economy which has significant effects on the structure of the domestic economy, so much so that if aquaculture activity were to cease, there would be consequent reductions in the country’s gross domestic output greater than the output produced by the aquaculture industry alone.

“The study conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) revealed that for every e1.00 of output in the aquaculture industry, another e0.24 of output is generated in other sectors of the Maltese economy, in many indirectly effects,” said Professor Scicluna.

Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs George Pullicino praised the industry’s contribution in helping the Maltese economy, while claiming that the fish-farming activity in Malta must be benchmarked against the goals set forth by the Maltese Government in Vision 2015 – a vision of “dynamic, high value-added economy founded on competence, skills, excellence and capable of sustaining a high standard of living for its entire people”.

“The aquaculture industry is a very positive one, as it greatly enhances the Maltese economy. Today’s presentation should be extended to all those who are still sceptical regarding what the industry exactly offers to our economy. It has grown at a very steady pace, so much so that today Malta is the largest industry in the Mediterranean associated with tuna farming.

“Nevertheless, we need to analyse in detail the indirect impact the industry may cause. The industry operates in a sensitive environment, and the extension of regulations and rules which safeguard our waters and sustain biodiversity is a must.

“Over the past, we have extended the fish farms up to six kilometers away from shores, as well as setting up a fisheries and maritime affairs committee in order to protect the conservation of the fish species,” added Mr Pullicino.

the Fish Site Editor