- Report of a mission to formulate a cooperative programme of activities
October 1978 – February 1979

This is one of a series of reports prepared during the course of the project identified on the title page.

The conclusions and recommendations given in the report are those considered appropriate at the time of its preparation. They may be modified in the light of further knowledge gained at subsequent stages of the project.

The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this document do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the United Nations or the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal or constitutional status of any country, territory or sea area, or concerning the delimitation of frontiers.

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1.1   Background information
1.2   Fisheries of the Mediterranean
1.3   Present state of stocks
1.4   Aquaculture

2.1   Types of aquaculture
2.2   State of aquaculture for various species
2.3   Production by aquaculture

3.1   Environmental factors
3.2   Technical and economic factors
3.3   Potential increase in production
3.4   Estimated demand

4.1   Culture technology
4.2   Seed
4.3   Feeds
4.4   Mortality control
4.5   Environmental protection
4.6   Planning
4.7   Training


6.1   Proposed organization
6.2   Aquaculture planning
6.3   Technology transfer
6.4   Seed production
6.5   Culture technology
6.6   Feed production
6.7   Mortality control
6.8   Environmental protection
6.9   Product development and marketing
6.10   Aquatic farm management


Annex I   Summary reports of the Mission's visit to countries in the Mediterranean region

1.   Cyprus

2.   Turkey

3.   Greece

4.   Yugoslavia

5.   Italy

6.   France

7.   Spain

8.   Morocco

9.   Tunisia

10.   Malta

11.   Libya

12.   Egypt

13.   Israel

Annex II   Demand and supply of fish and fishery products in Mediterranean countries with special reference to aquaculture products


1.   State of aquaculture in the Mediterranean region
2.   Estimated aquaculture production in Mediterranean countries
3.   Potential for expanding aquaculture in the Mediterranean region
4.   Estimated time-frame for development of economically successful aquaculture of various species
5.   Potential production of selected species by aquaculture in 1985 and 2000
6.   Estimated unfilled demand for aquaculture species
7.   Requirements for expansion of aquaculture in the Mediterranean region
8.   Availability of technology for expansion of aquaculture


The need for increased supplies of aquatic foods to meet the growing demands of an expanding population is well recognized in the Mediterranean region. The consumption of fish in the region rose from 2.7 to 3.7 million metric tons between 1960 and 1970, while population of the area increased from 265 to 308 million. It is estimated that by 1985, the population will have increased to 380 million and the annual demand for fish will rise to 5.5 million tons.

The landings of fish from the Mediterranean are not sufficient to meet the current or projected demand. Stocks of demersal fish in the northern Mediterranean are already heavily fished and the moderate increase in catch that seems possible along the southern coast is not likely to be adequate to meet the additional demand created. Two-thirds of the fish landed at Mediterranean ports are caught in the Atlantic ocean and about 15 percent of the fisheries products consumed in the region are imported.

The Mediterranean Action Plan and the Final Act of the Conference of Plenipotentiaries of the Coastal States of the Mediterranean Region for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona, Spain, 1975, included the development of aquaculture as one of the activities to be carried out within its framework.

The Mediterranean Mariculture Mission was organized in response to the recommendation of the Expert Consultation on Aquaculture Development in the Mediterranean Region, Athens, Greece, 1978, under a UNDP/FAO preparatory assistance project (RER/78/004) and visited 13 countries during the period of October 1978 to February 1979. The objectives of the Mission were to (i) investigate the feasibility of implementing production programmes, based on the exchange of existing technologies; (ii) advise on the organization of pilot projects, where needed; (iii) identify research, training and environmental monitoring activities required; (iv) define needs for technical and other assistance; and (v) formulate a cooperative programme for aquaculture development.


Aquaculture produces about 13 000 t of sea bass, sea bream, mullet, sole and eel; approximately one half of the regional supply of these species. All of the region's supply of oysters and mussels (some 21 000 t) is produced by aquaculture.

A traditional form of aquaculture, known as “lagoon culture”, is practised in about 29 000 ha of coastal lagoons bordering the Mediterranean. In this system, fish enter lagoons in the spring, grow during the summer on natural feeds, and are trapped when they attempt to return to the sea in the autumn. Although the yield from lagoon culture is low (10–200 kg/ha/y), this method is economically viable in eight of the 13 countries. Major species produced are: sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax), sea bream (Sparus auratus), sole (Solea vulgaris), mullet (Mugil spp.), and eel (Anguilla anguilla).

Valli culture is a modification of lagoon culture in which undersized fish are retained for a second growing season. Valli culture of sea bass, sea bream, sole, mullet and eel is undertaken on a commercial scale in Italy.

Pond culture, in which juveniles from nature or from hatcheries are grown to harvestable size in earthen ponds, has reached commercial viability in Italy for eels and in Egypt and Israel for mullet reared with carp and tilapia. Commercial ventures to grow sea bass, sea bream, mullet and shrimp have begun in France, Italy and Spain, but profitability has not yet been demonstrated. Sole culture in ponds is in the experimental stage in France.

Cage or enclosure culture is being experimented in Cyprus, France, Israel and Yugoslavia for sea bass, and in France and Israel for sea bream. Results are promising and pilot-scale operations are required to demonstrate commercial feasibility.

Controlled environment systems, in which juveniles are grown to marketable size in tanks or raceways under ideal conditions, are being developed for eel, sea bass, sea bream, sole and shrimp in France, Italy and Spain. Some commercial ventures have begun in France and Italy, with indications of economic viability of eel culture in Italy.

Mollusc culture is in various stages of development. Oyster (Ostrea edulis and Crassostrea gigas) and mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) farms are economically viable in France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Tunisia and Yugoslavia. Oyster culture has been tried in Cyprus, Israel and Malta. Mussel culture has been tried in Malta and Morocco. Clam culture experiments have been conducted in Italy and Spain and a new venture in France is on a commercial scale.

Each of the 13 countries studied has suitable coastal areas for culture of one or more of the following species: sea bass, sea bream, mullet, sole, eel, oyster, mussel and shrimp. Other species with future aquaculture potential include the turbot (Psetta maxima), the amberjack (Seriola dumerilii), and several species of clams.

It is estimated that with adequate support and necessary inputs, production through aquaculture in the region could be increased from the 1978 level of about 34 000 t to about 52 000 t by 1985, and 104 000 t by 1990; 1.5 and 3.1 times the present level respectively. Production in France, Italy and Spain, where aquaculture is already developing rapidly, could be increased from the 1978 level of about 26 000 t, to about 35 000 t by 1985, and to 57 000 t by 1990; 1.4 and 2.2 times the present level respectively. Production in the remaining ten countries studied could be increased from the 1978 level of about 8 000 t, to about 16 000 t by 1985, and 47 000 t by 1990; 2.1 and 6.0 times the present level respectively.

An analysis of the demand for aquatic products indicated that the projected increase of 18 000 t by 1985 should not present major marketing difficulties within the region. However, market development activities and increased exports may be needed in some countries.

Although commercially viable culture methods are available for some species, additional research, development and testing on pilot and commercial scales will be needed to provide a sound technical and economic basis for expanding aquaculture of others.

Dependable sources of seed, either from nature or from hatcheries, are needed. Seed oysters, mussels, eel and moderate quantities of mullet are available from the wild, but hatcheries have to be developed for sea bass, sea bream, sole and shrimp and will be required later for mullet and clams.

Large quantities of suitable feeds at acceptable prices will be needed for culture of shrimp and various species of fish.

Mortality control is essential, especially in high-density aquaculture systems. Closely associated with mortality control is the need to maintain high water quality in aquaculture areas.

The study showed that there are many common needs, problems and opportunities that could be solved most effectively and efficiently through a regional aquaculture project. The project would facilitate the sharing of currently available culture technology, joint planning of coastal aquaculture development activities, development and pilot-scale testing of new culture techniques, and training of aquatic farmers.


The need for increased supplies of aquatic foods to meet the growing demands of an expanding population is recognized as an important problem of the Mediterranean region. Closely related is the concern over the increasing pollution of the coastal areas of the Mediterranean, with potentially serious effects upon the aquatic environment and its ability to produce acceptable foods. The concept of a regional effort to expand production of aquatic species by aquaculture was described in the Action Plan for the Protection and Development of the Mediterranean adopted at the Intergovernmental Meeting on the Protection of the Mediterranean at Barcelona, (28 January–4 February 1975). This concept was discussed at the Intergovernmental Meeting of Mediterranean Coastal States on the Blue Plan at Split, Yugoslavia (31 January–4 February 1977) and at Monaco (9–14 January 1978).

In response, an Expert Consultation on Aquaculture Development in the Mediterranean Region was convened by the Government of Greece in cooperation with FAO/GFCM and UNEP in Athens, 14–18 March 1978. This meeting, attended by representatives of 11 countries bordering the Mediterranean, recommended that a regional cooperative programme should be established to develop aquaculture in the region and made a number of suggestions on the activities to be carried out under the programme.

In implementation of the above recommendation, a Mission was organized under the UNDP/FAO regional project RER/78/004, Preparatory Assistance for a Regional Mediterranean Aquaculture Development Project, within the framework of the UNDP/FAO interregional Aquaculture Development and Coordination Programme (ADCP), in cooperation with UNEP. The terms of reference for the Mission were as follows:

  1. To investigate the feasibility of implementing production programmes based on exchange of existing technologies, including traditional aquaculture practices in the countries of the region, advise on the selection of suitable production sites, and outline activities to be carried out;

  2. To advise on the selection of suitable sites for pilot projects to test the technical and economic viability of techniques that have reached an advanced stage of development and are not yet in production but are ready for pilot operation, and outline necessary project activities;

  3. To identify the research, training and environmental monitoring activities required to support successful aquaculture development and propose ways and means of carrying out these activities in the overall framework of the Mediterranean Action Plan;

  4. To define, after consultation with the appropriate authorities in Mediterranean countries, the technical and other assistance to be provided from external agencies, to implement the production and pilot projects referred to in (i) and (ii) above; and

  5. To formulate a cooperative programme in aquaculture development and a suitable project document describing the background, project activities and work plan, infrastructure and equipment requirements, personnel needed and the budget.

The Mission consisted of Mr. John Glude (Leader), Mr. H.L. Cook, Dr. M. Girin (part-time), Mr. P. Rouzaud (part-time), Mr. D. Charbonnier and UNEP provided the additional services of Dr. M. Zei. Dr. E. Ruckes assisted in the evaluation of marketing aspects. ADCP was responsible for the planning and organization of the work of the Mission and participated in the review of its findings and preparation of the final report.

During the period October 1978–February 1979, the Mediterranean Mariculture Mission visited each of the 13 countries which had expressed interest and agreed to provide facilities for the proposed investigations. Due to shortage of time, the visits were necessarily brief but the Mission made use of all available reports and other data for its appraisal of development potentials in different countries. After each visit, preliminary reports with recommended actions or projects were sent to the fisheries authorities in the country concerned for comments, corrections or additions. Many of them provided comments and additional information which were used for the reports. (See Annex I).

This report, which describes the state and potential of aquaculture and recommends actions, projects and the regional organization needed for the development of aquaculture in the Mediterranean region, was prepared on the basis of the country reports and other relevant data gathered.

Although the possibilities of coastal aquaculture development were discussed in general terms with fisheries personnel during the visits of the Mission, there was no opportunity to discuss the proposed projects with the authorities concerned as it was not possible to re-visit the countries after the plans were formulated. Nevertheless, it is expected that such discussions will soon be carried out by the ADCP staff.