Tuna farming operations. (Photo: AJD Tuna/FIS)
Tuna farming sector brainstorms on ways to expand
Tuesday, March 27, 2012, 03:50 (GMT + 9)
The capture-based tuna farming industry is expecting to grow. Its forecast says it will contribute about EUR 73 million to the economy and account for over 1,000 jobs in 2025.
This estimate is based on an assumed recovery of tuna stocks in the wild which would allow for bigger quotas and the Maltese industry to return to 2007 output levels.
By 2025, the strategy’s forecasts say, closed cycle aquaculture could produce about 10,000 tonnes of fish and contribute nearly EUR 40 million to the economy while providing jobs to almost 800 workers.
The industry’s proposed strategy is part of a public consultation process on a national strategy for aquaculture. The public consultation will last six weeks, Times of Malta reports.
During the launch of the consultation process, Rural Affairs Minister George Pullicino said that when the Aquaculture Centre at San Luċjan Tower in Marsaxlokk first opened, the government had entertained a vision and understood the importance of the sector, which was at that point non-existent.
Sea bass and sea bream farms were then developed and tuna farms followed in 2000, representing a new milestone for the industry.
As the sea bass and sea bream farms obtain most of their fish from hatcheries overseas, this growth signaled a need for a commercial-scale hatchery in Malta.
Today, the industry consists of six operators working from nine sites. It has the potential to provide 2,000 direct and indirect jobs and generated gross value added for the economy of EUR 120 million.
The sector just needs a strategy to determine exactly where it was going and how to get there, including a plan for sustainable development aquaculture and a guide for investment in the field, Pullicino commented.
The new strategy is based on 10 points, including setting production volumes, identifying sites for aquaculture, consultation with stakeholders, research and finance needs, the streamlining of licensing procedures, control on fish health and product diversification and commercialisation.
“We need to invest and identify what is required in order to grow in this sector. Malta is already ahead in some areas when compared with other countries and further investment could create numerous opportunities,” Pullicino stated, Malta Today reports.
With this in mind, Malta recently published its draft aquaculture strategy and signed on to a call made by 16 European Union (EU) member states for the Union to increase funding for fish farms. The call cites “a need to continue to give priority and support for investments aiming to fulfill market demand through increased aquaculture production, pointing out that the elimination of the traditional investment supports would have a serious adverse effect primarily on small and medium-sized enterprises,” Malta Independent reports.
By Natalia Real