All the projects for which the consultants had to carry out visits and which already have plans and drawings, are briefly described in the respective notes, see Appendix 4.
The Ministry of Agriculture is planning to establish four large-scale marine hatcheries. One of these is at a stage of initial construction (site preparation) and is located at Bogonitsa, Amvrakikos Gulf. The site was visited by the consultants and meetings were held with the engineers involved in the design and construction of the hatchery. For the other three projects (see Appendix 4), an international bid will be officially announced in the very near future. Among these, the hatchery plans concerning Pylos (Messinia) were discussed with the consultants during the visit to the site, where on-growing facilities are already in operation and additional ones under construction.
The initial plans and drawings have been prepared by the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Technology (M.I.E.T.). The operation is now under the control of the Ministry of Agriculture (M.A.) and grants from both the Ministry and P.I.M. (Integrated Plans for Mediterranean) are involved.
Unfortunately, as the plans were formulated at the M.I.E.T. and the M.A. is now responsible for construction, the local engineers could not, most of the time, explain the background to technical choices and the operation of certain systems and structures of the hatchery. This made the critical review of the project difficult. Main technical remarks can be summarized as follows:
the site was chosen in a very rocky area with excavations in the rocks attaining 10 m of depth for the preparation of suitable flat areas for the buildings. The relative costs are therefore very high (Dr 50 million of a total estimated cost of Dr 280 million.
the detailed engineering and operational data on the main sand filter were not available. It is felt that the counter-wash system will not be efficient, leading to easy obstruction of the filter and a consequent difficulty of use of sand filtration during hatchery operation.
the indoor phyto-zooplankton unit is under-dimensioned. The production plans àre based mainly on large outdoor tank cultures (Japanese technology). The lack of experienced experts in Europe in these technologies suggests, however, that these systems should only be used for complementary plankton production and as a provision for further training in these systems.
the three biofilters of the recirculating systems of the hatchery have the same dimensions. In fact, the larval rearing system has a very low ammonia production (small larvae, use of live food), and has no need for large biofilters. On the contrary, the weaning/nursery tanks' biofilters have to support high production of ammonia due to the larger size of fry and the use of artificial dry feed supplemented with a fresh fish diet.
a settling unit for both weaning systems, before biofilters, should be designed.
the use is proposed of high power U.V. lamps to be connected directly to the pipe-line downstream of the pumps, instead of the traditional inclined open trays with low power lamps which are much less efficient. The efficiency of sterilization in a recirculating system as well as in the phytozooplankton unit is very important for proper prophylaxis. The minimization of risk of bacterial blooms and of the occurrence of diseases in the hatchery depends mainly on this.
it is advised that water be supplied to the rearing tanks directly by the pressure of the pumps downstream of the biofilters, instead of pumping water to a head tank and supplying water by gravity. This allows easier flow regulations on the single tanks, increases water velocity in the pipe lines, thus maintaining more hygienic conditions (improved self-cleaning and no areas of “dead water”), and allows useful savings in the costs of pipes by reducing the diameters needed.
the plans include only cylindrical tanks, both for larval rearing (5.5 m3) and for weaning/nursery (11 m3). Experience indicates that the use of 2 m3 cylindro-conic tanks for larvae and of 10 m3 raceways for fry permits much easier and faster cleaning of the tanks (saving on labour costs), higher rearing densities and, in the case of raceways, a significant saving in area for the hatchery.
for the air supply four air blowers of 100 m3/h and 1.1 bar are planned. The shallow tanks used in the hatchery and in the outdoor facilities do not need an air pressure of 1.1 bar (0.25–0.30 bar is sufficient), but a total air flow 2 000 m3/h would be required. The use of air blowers with lower pressure capacity and higher flows is recommended.
As presently conceived, the hatchery is rather unconventionally designed. While the consultants would strongly agree with the idea of developing alternative production systems - especially in a State hatchery, two major conditions have to be respected:
it is preferable to start the industry with established methods. Specialized management will be required (and staff will have to be trained) to develop and operate the system;
the future operator has to know who will be able to manage these systems or to be trained for them.
There is the clear feeling that the formulation of the project was born on the mixing of various systems/equipment which had been picked up from a number of different hatcheries previously visited by the developers. This leads to two major problems:
most of these systems are old-fashioned and have been improved upon in the interim;
it would be difficult for a specialist to take the responsibility for successful technical management of this hatchery.
In these circumstances, it is preferable if hatchery project formulation, design, construction and assistance to start-up (including staff training and initial management) are carried out by the same engineering/consulting staff or company. This company would be responsible for the success or failure of the operation and for the attainment of production targets of the hatchery.
The lack of any programme for the future management of the hatchery, and the lack of any highly experienced specialist in hatchery design and management who would review and supervise the progress of the project, represents a real threat to the successful development of the operation.
Gialova Lagoon (Pylos)
A new fish farm with an associated State hatchery will be located at the north-western part of the Gialova Lagoon, over a flat clay area. The lagoon lies at the northern side of the Pylos bay, a deep wide gulf in the Messinia district. The hatchery will be constructed through international trade. The Ministry staff (after appropriate training abroad) will be responsible for the hatchery's operation from start-up onwards. The aim of the project is to provide a source of fry for on-growing in both on-shore and off-shore facilities (concrete tanks, earthern ponds, net cages) for the new farm under implementation, which is owned by the Messinia S.A. company (Agricultural Bank of Greece: 75–80%, Bank of Industry: 20–25%). The production target for the hatchery is 1 million sea bass/1 million sea bream fry per year.
The site chosen for the hatchery seems to fit properly with the farm in terms of water supply, transfer of fingerlings and services network. The only problem that could arise is represented by the effluents from olive-oil factories which enter the bay. This could be a source of pollution during the factories' active period (January-March). This problem should be accurately assessed during next winter in order to provide a suitable solution, e.g., depuration of the sewage from the factories or the diversion of the effluents through a canal directly to the sea.
Unlike the Bogonitsa project, the Ministry of Agriculture plans to involve foreign companies in these three hatcheries from the beginning of their operation for the following.
As discussed earlier, this strategy is likely to result in far more effective implementation.
Rhodes Aquaculture Farm
The sea bass/sea bream/prawn farm is owned by Mr. Lachaniatis and is located 80 km south of Rhodes, in the southern part of the island. The on-shore farm is based on a concrete raceway on-growing (150 t/year) with autonomous hatchery production of fry (1 200 000 fingerlings/year). The hatchery, the service building, the first year on-growing raceways and the prawn ponds have been completed and ready for operation for about 6 months. The water intake and pumping station are not constructed, even though the equipment (pipes and pumps) is already on the site. According to the various parties involved (the owner, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agricultural Bank of Greece), the pumping station as designed initially was not suitable. The design of the pumping station was then changed and the present solution seems to fit with the site, which is very exposed to south south-east winds. These design changes, together with objections from the archaeological authorities for the site, have significantly delayed the progress of works and the release of credits. Therefore, the hatchery, which is ready for operation, will most likely not produce fry during next winter with a consequent loss of 1 year's operation. The following remarks can be noted:
the pumping station is the heart of an on-shore fish farm and of a hatchery. For this reason the study and the design of a pumping station must be very accurate, taking into consideration the worst sea conditions of the site, and the construction of a farm and a hatchery must begin with the pumping station.
marine fish farms, especially hatcheries and on-shore on-growing facilities, have particularly high capital and operational costs and have to face two years of operational costs before receiving the first income. This difficulty has to be added to the particular conditions of Greece: that is to say, the increased costs involved in importing equipment, the very high financing costs (high interest rates), and the length of construction operations. All these factors make the financial success of the operation very delicate and a loss of one year, as is happening at Rhodes Aquaculture, can mean the collapse of the initiative.
technically the hatchery, as well as the rest of the farm, is constructed to good standard criteria for an intensive system. Top quality equipment has been selected and, despite higher capital costs, this strategy will be validated in the longer term by higher reliability of the production systems and equipment and a longer life time. This is particularly important in Greece, and especially on Rhodes Island, where the operation has to face heavy difficulties, costs and waiting time for any purchase of spare parts, repairs, or mechanical assistance.
the location of the farm (80 km from Rhodes) will likely represent a problem for the availability and the cost of the personnel (from consultants and manager to specialist technicians and workers).
Leros Aquaculture Farm
The marine cage farm, owned by Mr Dimitrokopoulos, is located on the small island of Leros, in the eastern Aegean Sea. A small scale hatchery, with capacity of 100 000–200 000 fry/year, is integrated with the on-growing unit of 24 cages (capacity of 50 t/year). The operation started on a very small scale with a few cages, depending on supplies of fry from abroad. A small hatchery was then built, part indoors and part outdoors, with sheltered tanks. Some technical assistance is supplied by Cephalonian Fisheries. The actual production of the hatchery is very low (50 000 sea bass in 1986 and 15 000 sea bream + 10 000 sharpsnout sea bream in 1987), and the target of 400 000 fingerlings for next season appears very optimistic. The results obtained, considering the less-than-ideal nature of the facilities and dependence on self-taught personnel who have had no formal training, are nevertheless commendable, as are the attempts to reproduce some other promising species like sharpsnout sea bream (Diplodus puntazzo) and common dentex (Dentex dentex).
However, this approach could not be recommended at the present as a model for the development of marine hatcheries in Greece. There is first a lack of trained personnel necessary for the hatchery operation; and the purchase of know-how, together with initial technical assistance, would be too expensive for small-scale projects. On the other hand, the development of a “home-made” technology takes too much time and requires a high amount of dedication, patience and assiduity, which is still not always a guarantee of success. All these factors make such an approach very difficult and expensive and cannot be justified economically - purchase of fry from external sources would be a better solution.
Cephalonian Fisheries represents the only commercial hatchery operation in Greece. The actual production capacity is around 1 200 000 fry per year (0.8–1 million sea bream and 0.2.–0.4 million sea bass), and the cage production target is around 350 tons per year of market-size fish.
The experience of Cephalonian Fisheries is certainly useful for the identification of problems and constraints the operator has to face for completing successfully the construction and operation of a large-scale hatchery:
lack of information and prior experience of the operator in evaluation of the profitability and of the risks of a marine aquaculture operation.
difficulties and delays in the licensing process for permission to install a marine farm.
lack of experience on the part of the financing institutions in supervising and foreseeing the difficulties involved in an investment which is still today unusual in comparison with other well established commercial operations.
difficulty in finding and selecting scientists and technicians who have skills which are critical for the success of hatchery operations.
the amount of money necessary for initial operation (1–2 years before first income).
high production costs of fry.
Unfortunately, the Company refused to give permission to the consultants to visit the hatchery and the cage facilities in Cephalonia, as was previously planned. It would have been useful, in the context of the mission, to visit the only commercially operational hatchery in Greece in order to discuss with the technical management/scientific staff the various aspects of the hatchery operations.
It is very disappointing to note that this behaviour on the part of private mariculture operators is widespread in various countries. Marine aquaculture, and particularly marine hatchery production, does not rely on specific “secrets” of systems or technologies but mainly on the experience and capacity of personnel. The protection of non-existent “home secrets” by banning visits from professionals only gives rise to a general feeling that the operator has something negative to hide (bad quality production, lower results than those officially declared, etc.), rather than successful technology and high levels of production. This is decidely damaging to the development of a very new field such as Mediterranean aquaculture which requires at the stage maximum cooperation in the exchange of information and experience in order to overcome the problems faced by every single operator.
The hatchery, under construction, is situated on a small island connected to the mainland by a road, closing the south-eastern side of the Kyparissi Lagoon (in front of Evia Island). It was first planned in 1984, the design made by MEDRAP-FAO consultants, reviewed and implemented by SPEKA, the technical branch of PASEGES (Panhellenic Confederation of Unions of Agricultural Cooperatives). The aim of the project, which is financed by the Ministry of Agriculture, is to provide the local fishermen's cooperative with an alternative to fishing in the lagoon, in the form of a cage farm supported by a hatchery. The technical remarks are as follows:
the hatchery is located at more than 10 m a.s.l., thereby giving rise to high pumping costs. No suitable argument was given for the preference for this location over other likely areas at lower levels.
the site is far from electrical and freshwater networks.
the design fits with the hatchery targets and is based on relatively up-to-date technology, as a result of the input of experienced MEDRAP agents. The capacity of 250 000 fry per year appears, however, to be under-estimated for the size of facilities.
no U.V. sterilization is planned for the weaning recirculating system. A closed system cannot operate reliably without any sterilization system.
the site for sea cages should be accurately chosen in order to avoid any contamination of the hatchery's water intake.
Regarding the organizational/operational aspects of the project, the consultants would question the complete lack of realistic plans for financing and for carrying out (technical management) the hatchery's operation. This is rather surprising considering that the hatchery should also have a training target.
EKTHE Experimental Hatchery
At the National Marine Research Centre an experimental hatchery has been in operation since 1976, on prawn (from 1976 to 1982) and on sea bass/sea bream since 1982. The Centre facilities are at the moment relatively old and do not fit with the requirements of an efficient up-to-date research programme on fish species where technology is evolving rapidly. For these main reasons, the consultants were asked to propose a design of a new extended hatchery, emphasizing the research capacity on staggered reproduction and larval rearing and nutrition.
The existence of in-house and established technical experience in the Centre is a positive and indispensable condition for further improvement of the facilities and of the quality of the research programmes and results. The Centre is also able to support applied research programmes with more basic research through other departments (fish pathology, fish nutrition, etc.).
Experimental Hatchery of the Institute of Marine Biology of Crete
The newly founded Institute, an autonomous institution of the Research Centre (Ministry of Industry, Energy and Technology) and the University of Crete, has presented a complete plan for the implementation of an experimental facility for sea bass/sea bream reproduction, aiming to establish:
applied research programmes mainly based on larval nutrition.
training programmes on hatchery operations.
production of fry to be sold to private operators (on-growing) on the Island for fund-raising for the Centre.
providing technical assistance to those operators involved in on-growing initiatives.
The Institute has already officially received from the Harbour Authorities the free lease of an existing building (total 1 400 m2) where all the administrative/teaching/research and production facilities will take place, and of a 2 000 m2 area for the construction of a pre-growing unit (from 1 g fry to 20–30 g juveniles). A first budget is available of Dr 10 million and preparation works on the building have already started.
This programme is based on an extremely favourable set of characteristics which make the outlook for the operation very promising, i.e.:
all the programmes have been formulated and will be carried out by Mrs Kentouri and Mr Divanach, who have more than 10 years experience in sea bass/sea bream aquaculture (research and production) in France, and can be considered among the best experts in this field.
the programme can benefit from all the structures, facilities and scientific knowledge of the Research Centre and the University.
the Institute has the freedom to fix agreements and programmes with the private sector or public institutions and can increase its capacity for self-financing.
collaboration programmes are already fixed with the Universities of Montpellier (France) and Barcelona (Spain) for information exchange and training.
The Institute has also been investigating the development possibilities of sea bass/sea bream on-growing on the island, and two sites were visited by the consultants:
Cage culture in Elunda Bay. This is a very well protected bay in the eastern part of Crete and part of it could be successfully used for cage culture. A study is being carried out by the University on Elunda Bay to evaluate the biological capacity of the bay for supporting cage culture. As soon as the new centre is able to provide fry, the first cages will be installed.
The “almiros” of Heraklion. About 10 km west of Heraklion, there is the largest “almiros” of Crete, i.e. brackishwater springs, with temperatures of 14–16°C, salinity around 4–5 p.p.t., and a water flow ranging from a minimum of 4 m3/sec (summer) to 20 m3/sec (winter). The authorities are at the moment studying the possibility of separating the fresh water available through this “almiros”, increasing the height of the natural reservoir (with a dike), and thus the pressure on the underground layers. If the project is not feasible, this water should be available for aquaculture. This low salinity water could be put to good use, in addition to trout farming (see Edwards (1987)) for sea bass and sea bream intensive tank farming (with a production capacity of 300–400 t/year).
The consultants strongly recommend that Greek institutions support the project of this Institute, which could be very useful for the development of efficient research/training/development programmes in Greece.