Aquaculture for all

Marine Finfish Production In Cyprus & Malta


Over the last decade, aquaculture has been one of the fastest growing food production sectors in Cyprus. Today it accounts for 70 per cent of the national fisheries production and for 70 per cent of its value, writes Lara Barazi-Yeroulanos, FAO Consultant.

Table 7 – Cyprus : Aquaculture production
Year Volume (Tonnes) Value (€,000) Value/kg (€)
2003 1756 10212 5.70
2004 3530 28516 8.10
2005 3603 29669 8.25
2006 3604 25863 7.20
2007 3230 26705 8.35
Source: MedAquaMarket national country report

The marine aquaculture segment is clearly the most important with an annual production of 3500 tonnes in 2008. The commercial production of European seabass and gilthead seabream started in 1986 at the hatchery level followed in 1988 by the first on growing land based facility. The following year the first offshore cage facilities were established. By 2008, there were three marine hatcheries and one shrimp hatchery operating with six offshore marine farms for the culture of European seabass and gilthead seabream and three offshore farms for the fattening of bluefin tuna. The variation in annual production figures is due to the capture based culture of bluefin tuna which can vary substantially from year to year. This activity started in 2003 with the first production in 2004.

Table 8 – Cyprus: Aquaculture production by species
Species Ongrowing production, quantity (tonnes)
European seabass and gilthead seabream 2500
Bluefin tuna 1000
Trout 52
Indian white shrimp 20
TOTAL 3572
Species Hatcheries production, quantity (number)
European seabass and gilthead seabream 11,000,000
Rabbit fish 170,000
Indian white shrimp 1500,000
Trout 215,000
Sturgeon 5000
Ornamental 150,000
Total 130,40,000
Source: MedAquaMarket national country report


In the early 1990s the Maltese government saw the aquaculture industry as a potential lucrative industry, able to provide employment and satisfy local demand for fresh, high quality fish. The first foreign company was set up in 1990 and was followed by another three companies in the next five years. Due to the withdrawal of Malta’s membership application to the EU in 1996, the industry was faced with an export tariff of 15 percent of sales, making it incapable of competing in its traditional export market of Italy. This was followed by the 2001–2002 price crises, which led to a shift to tuna farming. The players in the marine aquaculture market dropped to one main operator until 2006 when two of the original tuna penning operators started up bream culture in addition to their tuna operations. With the accession of Malta to the EU in 2004, Maltese producers were able to resume some European seabass and gilthead seabream farming operations. The main export destination today is Italy, due to the size of the market and geographic proximity. The production of aquaculture finfish species has remained almost unchanged for the years 2003 to 2007.

Table 9 – Malta: Aquaculture production, 2003–2007
Year Volume (tonnes) Value (€,000) Value/kg (€) Volume (tonnes) Value (€,000) Value/kg (€)
2003 101 1052 10.42 827 3141 3.80
2004 129 1215 9.42 784 2985 3.81
2005 205 1504 7.34 645 2896 4.49
2006 153 1224 8.00 894 4228 4.73
2007 75 1103 14.71 1.097 4.750 4.33
Source: Malta Centre of Fisheries Sciences/National Statistics Office

Most juveniles are imported, with a small bream juvenile production of 200000 in 2007. European seabass production represents only 13 percent of total but is specialized in larger sizes of up to 2kg, commanding a higher sale price per kilo as is shown in Table 9. There is no freshwater aquaculture in Malta and there is no molluscs or shellfish culture.

Since late 2007 the aquaculture industry in Malta has been under pressure from declining prices and increasing costs mainly due to the energy crisis and uncontrolled inflation. The global financial crisis has also affected demand in general and the availability of bank financing for the expansion of current operations or the establishment of new ones. Future growth is also severely limited by the availability of sheltered sites and strong competition with tourism.

January 2011