A month-long call for expressions of interest has been issued “for the design, construction and operation of a marine hatchery including blue-fin tuna spawning and aquaculture research facilities,” which should be able to produce at least 20 million sea bream fingerlings or equivalent annually, Parliamentary Secretary for Fisheries Roderick Galdes told the MaltaIndependent.
The project’s site, which will be provided by the government, is two sizeable fields just next to Fort San Lu?jan: the structures will be built underground, to reduce the visual impact on the fort, reports the MaltaIndependent.
Mr Galdes said that after 25 years, the time had come for a larger, more commercial, facility, which would be better suited to meet the sector’s needs.
Once it runs at full capacity, the new hatchery is expected to contribute €7 million annually to the economy, directly employ 69 full-time employees or equivalent and lead to the indirect employment of a further 61.
One of the hatchery’s priorities will be to intensify existing research on the farming of blue-fin tuna, with the long-term goal being a successful closed-cycle aquaculture process – as opposed to the capture-based aquaculture presently employed – for the lucrative species, whose numbers have dwindled rapidly in recent years.
So far, the MARC has only succeeded to keep tuna hatchlings alive for up to 54 days, although a similar facility in Spain has managed to do so for over a year.