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Sustainable Focus for Maltese Industry

MALTA - Maltas annual aquaculture production increased dramatically during the 1990s from 60 tonnes in 1991 to a peak of 2,300 tonnes of sea bream and sea bass in 1999 through the operation of a number of farms. However, due to overproduction of these two species throughout the Mediterranean region, production has dropped to around 800 tonnes in 2005. It is now on the increase, and currently at around 1,000 tonnes per year, and there are plans for expansion.

Speaking to Maria Giuliana Fenech of Malta's Independent news paper Robert Vassallo Agius (pictured), resource manager aquaculture at the Malta Centre for Fisheries Sciences, San Lucjan, Marsaxlokk, said that the country had many advancements registered in the aquaculture industry and good prospects for the future.

What processes take place at Fort San Lucjan?

Fort San Lucjan currently houses the Malta Centre for Fisheries Sciences which encompasses aquaculture and fisheries research, laboratories and an educational area with aquaria that display life under the sea. This falls within the Veterinary Affairs and Fisheries Division of the Rural Affairs and the Environment Ministry.

I am in charge of aquaculture research at Fort San Lucjan where I apply the principles and aquaculture methods that I practised in Japan. I work on the breeding and larval rearing of marine species, mainly the amberjack which is a species with great potential for the future of aquaculture in the Mediterranean.

Our main research project is the Amberjack Project, which involves research for the development of breeding and rearing the amberjack. This is a five-year project in collaboration with Malta Fishfarming Ltd, a local fish farm. The project started in 2006 and is already showing some very promising results with the production of 10,000 amberjack juveniles in 2007.

We are just starting our participation in a seventh Framework EU project known as SELFDOTT (SELF-sustaining aquaculture – Domestication of Thunnus thynnus) which is a follow-up project of the already successful REPRODOTT (Reproduction – Domestication of Thunnus thynnus). In this project, we are in partnership with another seven countries and we will carry out research towards the breeding of Bluefin tuna in captivity. For this three-year project, Malta will receive approx EUR330,000 from the EU and will be involved in wild sampling, broodstock rearing, broodstock nutrition, egg collection, larval transport and larval rearing.

Fort San Lucjan also houses a small scale marine hatchery where research for egg hatching and larval rearing is carried out. Various larval rearing techniques are tested and obviously the ones giving the best results are used. We are in collaboration with other foreign universities or companies to carry out trials on fish health and larval nutrition.

To read the full interview click here.