The Sector of Aquaculture in Cyprus constitutes an important component of the primary agricultural production, showing impressive growth rates and a high quality export products. As the global production of the capture fisheries sector decreases in the last twenty years and the demand for fishery products continues to grow, the contribution of aquaculture to the fishery products consumed worldwide each year has increased from about 10% in the 70s to around 50% in the current year.
Aquaculture in Cyprus started in 1969 with attempts to develop trout farming in the Troodos mountain range. The experimental freshwater fish culture station of the Fisheries and Marine Research Department (DFMR) was constructed at Kalopanayiotis and initially served as a pilot research station. Three years later the first private commercial trout farms became operational. Today trout is cultured mostly in raceways by using flow through systems.
Government policies applied in the sector of aquaculture are driven by sustainable development, protection of the marine environment as well as emphasizing on quality and hygiene of aquaculture products.
The first attempts with marine aquaculture were made in 1972 when the construction of a marine research station was initiated by the DFMR at Gastria, on the east coast of Cyprus, about 15 km northeast of Famagusta. In 1974 the Government lost access to the station due to the Turkish invasion. Research work in marine aquaculture continued from 1978-1989 in the Paphos Harbour where the DFMR successfully operated a small hatchery for the experimental reproduction of marine fish. A new experimental marine aquaculture station at Meneou, near Larnaka airport, was built by the DFMR in 1989 and all marine aquaculture research activities were resumed there.
The first private commercial marine fish hatchery began production in 1986, producing gilthead seabream and European seabass fingerlings. The first marine fish fattening unit, which used land-based coastal installations, started operation in 1988 producing gilthead seabream and European seabass, while the first commercial open sea cage farm was established in 1989.
In Cyprus there are in operation (licensed) nine marine open sea cage farms culturing mainly European seabass and gilthead seabream, three marine hatcheries, one land-based shrimp hatchery/farm and eight small freshwater units culturing mainly rainbow trout and smaller quantities of sturgeon. Apart from the mentioned private fish production units operating in Cyprus, there are also two government operating aquaculture search stations, one for marine species and the other for freshwater species.
The main marine species commercially cultured are the gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and European seabass (Dicentrachus labrax). The total production of seabream and seabass in percentages is 66 and 33 percent, respectively.
The total aquaculture production in 2018 reached 7.347tonnes of table size fish including 28 tonnes of shrimp, 41 tonnes of trout and 2.8 tonnes of sturgeon. In addition, 28.6 million fish fry were produced. The total value of aquaculture products in 2018 reached EUR 43,79 million.
The direct employment in the aquaculture sector is 291 persons; however a greater number of people are employed in aquaculture related jobs.