There is a drive to increase aquaculture production rapidly in Greece, fueled by the availability of substantial government and EEC grants; this drive, however, is not supported by the necessary experience and technical expertise. There is a substantial requirement for training of personnel and transfer of appropriate technology. This requirement is evident in all production sectors.
The equipment requirements of different industry sectors vary widely, the simplest being for lagoon systems and the most complex being for marine hatcheries. The capital cost of constructing marine hatcheries is estimated at Dr 100–150 × 106 per million fry annual production. On average 50% of this cost can be attributed to the building, 50% to tanks, pipes and mechanical items. Potential suppliers in all of these component areas should be made aware of the potential market and encouraged to supply it. Competition and the promotion of low cost but effective structures would help to bring down the capital cost of hatchery constructions.
The capital cost of cage units is the least of any marine ongrowing system and annual depreciation charges for a 50 t/year farm are less than 6% of production costs. Owing to this fact, and also to the value of stock contained, cage and mooring installations should be of the very best quality available.
The potential annual spending of a conventional 5 000 t/year cage ongrowing industry on principal installations could be approximately Dr 25.6 × 106, Dr 134 × 106, Dr 95.4 × 106 and Dr 43.7 × 106 on moorings, cage collars, cage nets and feeding systems respectively.
The material and equipment supply sector to aquaculture in Greece is adequate. A number of important specialized items have to be imported and will continue to be so; this however is not a constraint on development. Home production of items such as cage collars where raw materials are available but construction technology not great is expanding. Greek craftsmen are generally well skilled and capable of most construction tasks, provided they are given a suitable design to follow.
The following strategies are proposed for the development of the support industry:
Inform potential equipment and services manufacturers and suppliers of industry potential and requirements to stimulate awareness and interest (in the form of a simple circular).
Establish a centre to gather technical information concerning aquaculture equipment and engineering, to act as an advisor to both farmers and manufacturers, and to stimulate collaboration between the two parties.
Sponsor and promote equipment development projects between technical institutes and potential manufacturers.
Streamline import procedures (customs, banking procedures) to prevent unnecessary delays.
Ensure that imported goods for aquaculture are not unduly taxed or otherwise financially penalized.
The problems of lagoon development in Greece are well known, being primarily due to internal politics, poor enforcement of legislation, and inadequate training of fishery operators. The recent change in legislation giving operators a longer lease should provide an incentive for self-financed improvement. What improvements so far exist appear to have been made without proper prior consideration of economic and even biological parameters. Any improvement made to a lagoon must be properly researched to ensure that the value of any potential increase in production is not outweighed by the capital costs.
Any improvements made to lagoons must be followed up with stringent post improvement monitoring of production levels to assess their efficacy.
Regional fisheries offices should be given much more support from the head office in Athens. One regional fishery office from which considerable lagoon improvements have been directed has not received a visit from a head office representative for eight years.
The majority of cages now in use in Greece are derived from the Scottish “Kames 3-tonne cage” design. Raw materials are readily available and the design is perfectly adequate for the early stages of the industry. There is presently no necessity to use homemade metal cages. Metal cages can only be properly justified in sizes greater than 12 × 12 m, and such sizes require advanced welding and galvanizing technology which Greece does not presently possess.
The number of sheltered inshore sites for conventional cages in Greece is quite limited, although sufficient for the foreseeable future. Any major industry expansion will, however, require the import or development of cages for exposed inshore and offshore conditions. Development of such cages could be the subject, if market opportunities justify, of a collaborative research effort between a technical institute and a potential manufacturer.
The parameters proposed by the Ministry of Agriculture for the nationwide survey of marine aquaculture sites are basically adequate. However, sites should also be assessed for potential carrying capacity and environmental impact, both hydrological and visual.
Research efforts should be directed towards low cost hatchery systems, extensive fry production methods, development of large cages for exposed inshore waters, and on the problems of managing bass and bream in such cages.
The research and development programme of the University of Crete should be properly supported and encouraged.
A programme should be developed for the training of personnel at all levels of the industry at existing successful operations in Greece and overseas. Aquaculture engineering should form a significant part of such training particularly at upper and mid-management levels.
Funds should be made available for properly organized study tours both within Greece and overseas for selected members of producer groups: the results of such tours should be properly disseminated.