|The Sector of Aquaculture in Cyprus constitutes an important component of the primary agricultural production, showing impressive growth rates and a high quality export product. It is worth mentioning that the global aquaculture is the fastest growing food production sector, with an average growth rate of 6-8% annually. 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 safety of aquaculture products.|
Aquaculture in Cyprus is an important economical activity which is based on the application of advanced biotechnology. It contributes significantly to the production of fishery products, reduces fishing deficit and thereby reduces the negative trade balance, creates job placements and occupies employees with specialized scientific background. Also, it provides an affordable in terms of price and highly nutritional product.
In Cyprus, nine (9) fattening farms are operating, all using offshore cage farming techniques. The main cultured species are seabream (Sparus aurata), seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), meagre (Argyrosomus regius), rabbit fish (Siganus rivulatus) and pandora (Pagellus erythrinus), with a total annual production of 4.300T. Nonetheless, the most important cultured marine fish species are the seabream and seabass with 3.100T and 1.100T of production respectively (DFMR, 2012).
All fattening units are using the intensive farming technique of offshore fish cage farming. Sites for fish farms are selected with respect to marine environment protection and therefore, are developed within 1-4 km distance from the shore in water depths of 18-70 m, while the minimum distance in between them is approximately 2 km. These features ensure the environmental friendly approach of the activity as well as the friendly interaction with the other economical activities of the coastal zone (tourism, fisheries etc.).
Along with the fattening units, three (3) private marine fish hatchery stations are operating as well as a shrimp hatchery/breeding unit. The three marine fish hatcheries are operating in an intensive basis, in coastal areas. Their total annual production is approximately 23 million fingerlings. The shrimp farm (Penaeus indicus), had a total annual production of 7T (DFMR, 2012) and constitutes a unique facility in the Mediterranean basin for the corresponding shrimp specie. It is developed on land-based facilities in which specialized biotechnology techniques are applied.
The freshwater aquaculture in Cyprus is characterized by small-scale fish farms, with smaller growth potential when compared to marine aquaculture. The major limiting factor for FW aquaculture in Cyprus is the freshwater availability. The fish farms, are mainly focused on the fattening of freshwater fish species i.e. rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and sturgeon (Asipenser baeri).
There are eight (7) FW aquaculture farms, all located on Troodos mountains. Their facilities are mainly constituted of concrete tanks with their water intake coming from neighboring springs and rivers. Some of these farms operate as fish hatcheries as well, with a total annual production of 270,000 fingerlings.
There is also an ornamental fish hatchery operating in Cyprus. The main fish species that are cultivated are goldfish (Carassius sp.) and ornamental carp (Cyprinus carpio), which are then driven into the local and international market.
Aquaculture Research Stations
The Department of Fisheries and Marine Research, has two research stations which promotes scientific research and technological development on aquaculture. These are the Meneou Marine Aquaculture Research Station (Larnaca) and the Freshwater Aquaculture Research Station in Kalopanayiotis (Troodos).
Meneou Marine Aquaculture Research Station (MeMARS)
The MeMARS is the only research station dedicated to marine aquaculture research in Cyprus. It participates in numerous European and other research programs and promotes research and development in the sector of marine aquaculture. Specifically, the research programs of the MeMARS are mainly focused on the reproduction and farming of the so called “new species” i.e. rabbitifsh (Siganus rivulatus), pandora (Pagellus erythrinus), common dentex (Dentex dentex), greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili), meagre (Argyrosomus regius) and octopus (Octopus vulgaris). Apart from that, it is the center for treatment and care of injured marine wild turtles (Caretta caretta, Chelonia mydas).
Freshwater Aquaculture Research Station (Kalopanagiotis)
In the Kalopanayiotis Research Station, it is taking place with success the reproduction of trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss, Salmo trutta) and sturgeon (Acipenser baeri). Several species of carp (i.e. Cyprinus carpio, Carassius carassius) and goldfish (Carassius auratus) are also cultured. The Kalopanayiotis Research Station is responsible for the management of the biodiversity of the inland waters (fish stocking), the recreational fisheries and supplies the FW aquaculture private firms with trout and sturgeon fingerlings.