Characteristics, structure and resources of the sector
Algerian aquaculture production is now in the takeoff phase. Since 1920 it has been capitalising on a four-phase experience:
Freshwater fish and shrimp breeding trials.
Experimental shellfish production, simultaneously with the development of brackish and freshwater lagoon fisheries.
Development of restocking in impoundments, to develop commercial inland fisheries.
Recently the establishment of the Ministry of Fisheries and Fish Resources and the intervention of the private sector to set up aquaculture businesses.
At the present time aquaculture production comes from:
Brackish and freshwater lake basin fisheries in the East of the country. Charges include a variety of different fish (gilthead seabream, mullet, eels, sole, European bass, white seabream, clams, oysters, sand steenbras, Caramote prawns, common and Chinese carp)
Inland impoundment fisheries species such as the common carp, the Chinese carp and the barbel.
Shellfish culture by one private business operator, producing several dozen tonnes of Mediterranean mussels and Pacific cupped oysters.
Aquaculture production regularly increased year-on-year from 1999 (250 tonnes) to 2004 (641 tonnes), except in 2003 (240 tonnes) following the drought and the drying up of some of the impoundments. Ninety percent of the production is freshwater fish and largely comes from the regular stocking of the impoundments with common carp, Chinese carp and flathead grey mullet alevins by the Ministry in order to develop commercial fisheries there.
A National Five-year Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Plan (2003-2007) has been implemented. Public and private aquaculture-linked activities have been planned under it. The public projects are mainly for demonstration and production support purposes, whereas private projects are for commercial aquaculture production. Between 20 and 60 per cent of these government-financed projects have now been completed.
With regard to sectoral research policy, a fisheries and aquaculture research laboratory has been established. Aquaculture research is headed by a divisional director and five research team leaders.
At the present time, aquaculture is practised in an environment that is able to meet the needs created by sustainable aquaculture development, backed by the necessary institutional, legal and financial instruments, making it possible to begin the process of integrating different aquaculture production areas and allied activities into the national economy.
History and general overview
Historically, Algerian aquaculture may be summarised as follows:
In 1921, the establishment of the station at Bou-Ismail (east of Algiers) the following aquaculture objectives:
Deciding on the best methods and places for oyster culture (Crassostrea gigas) and mussel culture (Mytilus galloprovincialis).
Developing freshwater fish breeding.
In 1937, the establishment of a freshwater fish breeding station (Oncorhynchus mykiss and Micropterus salmoides) for stocking impoundments and wadis. The station was subsequently closed.
In 1940, work began on exploiting the lakes in Eastern Algeria (Mellah, Oubeira and Tonga) with the installation of fish weirs, the introduction of fisheries and shellfish farming (Mytilus galloprovincialis, Crassostrea gigas, Ruditapes decussatus).
In 1947, the establishment of the station at Mazafran (east of Algiers) to conduct hydro-biological research, fry rearing and stock impoundments.
In 1973, work began on exploiting Lake el Mellah with an FAO-supported programme with two main objectives:
to improve fishery techniques;
to conduct the mussel and oyster farming trials.
In 1974, the study and exploitation of Lake Oubiera led to an eel smoking unit installation project. This project was subsequently abandoned.
In 1978, a cooperation programme was instituted with China, focusing on two areas:
Initiation into carp reproduction and fry breeding techniques for restocking purposes. On building and the restocking of certain impoundments.
Attempts to produce Penaeus kerathurus larvae.
From 1982 to 1990, farming by a private producer on lakes Tonga, Oubeira and Mellah; an annual output of around 80 tonnes exported to Italy.
Between 1983 and 1984, work began on building a European bass hatchery (Dicentrarchus labrax) on Lake el Mellah.
Between 1985 and 1986, some 15 impoundments were stocked with carp and pike-perch (Stizostedion lucioperca) imported from Hungary.
In 1991, the National Dams Agency began a dam restocking operation within the framework of exploiting water management infrastructure for fish breeding purposes; carp alevin stocking (Cyprinus carpio, Ctenopharyngodon idellus, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Hypophthalmichthys nobilis). None of these activities succeeded in achieving their planned results, to be able to set in motion activities leading to levels of aquaculture production able to contribute to the development of a fully fledged aquaculture industry.
At the present time, thanks to the government's declared intention to promote and develop the aquaculture sector, the Ministry of Fisheries and Fish Resources is providing between 40 percent and 80 percent subsidies to private operators to establish maritime aquaculture enterprises (Dicentrarchus labrax and Sparus aurata), freshwater aquaculture stations (Oreochromis niloticus) or shellfish culture in the open sea (Mytilus galloprovincialis and Crassostrea gigas). Most are between 20 and 60 percent completed.
The bulk of aquaculture production, estimated at 641 tonnes in 2004, comes from inland impoundment fisheries. It mainly consists of freshwater species (common carp and Chinese carps) which are now beginning to find a market in the areas in which they are produced. In order to develop aquaculture integrated into agriculture in the Saharan zones, the ministry has introduced Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) broodstock and alevins which have produced highly encouraging results.
Inland fisheries in impoundments are run by 14 fish farmers (between one and four people per impoundment), working full-time on nine water bodies.
Lagoon eel fisheries employ:
30 people on Lake el Mellah.
16 people on Lake Tonga.
20 people on Lake Oubeira.
Thanks to the economic recovery plan, the shellfish company currently in production employs 17 people (two managers, four technicians, and 11 labourers); the business is managed by its owner.
The private entrepreneurs who have received financial support within the framework of the economic recovery support programme, whose projects should become operational by the end of 2006, will help to create 303 jobs, as follows:
Nile tilapia breeding farm in southern Algeria: 139 jobs (six managers, 10 technicians, 123 labourers).
European bass and gilthead seabream breeding farm in northwestern Algeria: 85 jobs (four managers, six technicians, 75 labourers).
European bass and gilthead seabream breeding farm in northwestern Algeria: 60 jobs (three managers, five technicians, 45 labourers).
A mussel and oyster breeding unit in northern Algeria: 19 jobs (two managers, three technicians, 14 labourers).
All these farms are run by their owners.
Farming systems distribution and characteristics
To prevent aquaculture development from being hampered by disputes over usage rights, the Ministry of Fisheries and Fish Resources drafted the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Master Plan, based for its administrative organisation on a territorial division, and for its economic organisation on economic activity poles, defined in terms of biogeographical variations. It identified seven economic activity poles:
Pole A: Diversified aquaculture.
Pole B: Inland aquaculture.
Pole C: Marine aquaculture.
Pole D: Inland aquaculture.
Pole E: Aquaculture integrated into agriculture and marine aquaculture.
Pole F: Aquaculture integrated into agriculture.
Pole G: Support aquaculture.
The ministry is currently studying these activity poles in order to eventually define a master plan to:
Protect areas suitable for shellfish culture.
Preserve new sites suitable for shellfish culture.
Foster better coexistence between aquaculture and other coastal and inland activities.
In addition to the lagoon fisheries for endogenous species (e.g. Liza aurata, Solea vulgaris, Dicentrarchus labrax, Sparus aurata, Lithognathus mormyrus, Anguilla anguilla, Diplodus sargus, Epinephelus aeneus, Thynnus thynnus, Pagrus pagrus, Barbus barbus), until the beginning of the 1990s the main aquaculture activities involved stocking natural and artificial water bodies with the introduced species. The species that have been introduced are: Cyprinus carpio, Gambusia halbrooki, Oncorhynchus mykiss, Tinca vulgaris, Leuciscus erythrophthalmus, Tilapia zillii, Micropterus macrochir, Crassostrea gigas, Mytilus galloprovincialis, Hypophthalmichthys nobilis, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Ctenopharyngodon idellus, Stizostedion lucioperca and Silurus glanis. In order to develop inland fisheries and aquaculture integrated into agriculture the ministry recently imported Hypophthalmichthys molitrix from Hungary and Oreochromis niloticus from Egypt. Over 90 percent of the production from inland impoundment fisheries are common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and Chinese carp (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix and Ctenopharyngodon idellus).
Practices/systems of culture
For reasons mainly having to do with the institutional instability of aquaculture management, the inadequacy of aquaculture research, the failure to adjust training to meet the needs of the aquaculture sector and the lack of subsidies and bank credit, most of the fish farming practices in Algeria are extensive, based on stocking and restocking inland water bodies.
In marine aquaculture there is only one private company which is farming Mediterranean mussels and Pacific cupped oysters.
The National Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Plan makes provision for the future development of semi-intensive and intensive farming systems through bass and gilthead seabream rearing projects using floating cages and raceways and through the production of tilapia and catfish using raceways.
In the period 2000–2004, production (tonnes/year) were as follows:
The graph below shows total aquaculture production in Algeria according to FAO statistics:
Market and trade
Although Algerian households prefer sea fish, inland quaculture production finds a market where it is easily disposed of in the regions where they are produced.
Contribution to the economy
The aquaculture development sectoral policy being implemented by the Ministry of Fisheries and Fish Resources attributes major importance to developing the rural areas of the country. All of these projects taken together aim at settling the populations, contributing to their food security and creating employment.
To achieve this, the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Development Plan makes provision for the creation of 5 021 jobs as follows:
Inland aquaculture: 2 252.
Shellfish culture: 870.
Marine aquaculture: 906.
Farming natural aquaculture resources: 1 193.
Promotion and management of the sector
The institutional framework
Under Decree no. 2000-124 of 10 June 2000 organising the central government, the Aquaculture Development Directorate was created as the technical and administrative authority tasked with aquaculture development at the Ministry of Fisheries and Fish Resources, with:
Defining, guiding and steering all activities relating to aquaculture.
Identifying and conducting aquaculture potential surveys.
Promoting an aquaculture production industry.
Initiating and proposing programmes for the conservation and protection of areas used for aquaculture and inland fisheries.
Taking part in drafting rules governing these activities.
The Aquaculture Development Directorate has three Sub-Directorates:
The Aquaculture Sites Development Sub-Directorate, responsible inter alia for:
Identifying national sites suitable for aquaculture.
Drafting a natural and artificial water bodies stocking and restocking programme.
The Aquaculture Potential Exploitation and Valorisation Sub-Directorate, responsible inter alia for:
Drafting and proposing measures to encourage the promotion of fish farming.
Examining and steering all investment applications for developing and establishing a fish farms, and monitoring and overseeing them.
The Environmental Conservation and Protection Sub-Directorate, responsible for:
Identifying and mapping the healthy zones, implementing rules governing the health and control of aquaculture products.
Being party to national and international conventions and agreements on the conservation and protection of the environment on all the sites suitable for aquaculture.
Initiating and proposing programmes for the conservation and protection of all sites suitable for aquaculture.
Each Sub-Directorate is organised into Offices, whose main responsibility is to implement and monitor the activities programmed in the exercise of the powers vested in them.
In order to meet the needs of the aquaculture development programme, the central Directorate has established offices throughout the country in the form of local fisheries and aquaculture Directorates. There are seven Inland Directorates and fourteen Coastal Directorates.
The governing regulations
The legal and regulatory framework was strengthened by the drafting and enactment of Act No. 01-11 of 3 July on fisheries and aquaculture. The main regulations relating to this law currently in force and governing aquaculture:
Executive Decree No.03-280 of 23 August 2003 establishing the procedures for the issue of a permit to use government-owned land to farm Lakes Oubeira and Mellah “wilaya d'El Taref” (JO No. 1-2003).
Executive Decree No.04-373 of 21 November 2004 stipulating the conditions and the procedures for granting permits to create an aquaculture farm (JO No. 75-2004).
Executive Decree No. 04-188 of 7 in July 2004 setting out the procedures for capturing, transporting, marketing and introducing brood stock, larvae and alevins into water bodies, and the procedures for catching, transporting, storing, importing and marketing the products of fisheries and aquaculture under the regulatory minimum size for breeding, culture or scientific research purposes (JO No. 44-2004).
Executive Decree No. 04-189 of 7 July 2004 laying down health and hygiene standards applicable to fisheries and aquaculture products (JO No. 44-2004).
The Ministry of Fisheries and Fish Resources is empowered to issue permits, after examining the applications, for the establishment of breeding/culture facilities and farming an inland water body. Under the rules currently in force governing its powers, it is responsible for protecting the sites and their biological resources, and laying down health and hygiene standards for fisheries and aquaculture products.
Applied research, education and training
One of the constraints hampering the development of aquaculture is the inadequacy of aquaculture research. For this purpose, a sectoral research policy has been drawn up, hinging around:
A multi-year sectoral research programme.
An inter-sectoral research network of laboratories and research centres in every part of the country.
A sectoral map of scientific research, to rehabilitate and establish fisheries and aquaculture sectoral research and experimental centres, endow the sectoral research establishments with human and physical resources, and fund sectoral research from the resources of the National Multisectoral Research Fund.
At the present time the sector has a research laboratory, comprising two research divisions. Each division comprises four teams of researchers.
Due to a lack of specialists, training in the aquaculture disciplines is provided globally in the fourth year of State Marine Biology Engineering degree courses run by the Marine Biology Departments at the Universités de science et technologie Houari Boumediene (Alger), Annaba, Oran and the Institut des Sciences de la Mer et de l'Aménagement du Littoral.
The Institut de Technologie des Pêches et de l'Aquaculture provides what is essentially a theoretical training course for students studying for an aquaculture technician’s diploma.
A sectoral training map has been drawn up for the restructuring and rehabilitation of existing training establishments and for the institution of an engineering teaching, extension and specialisation unit with ability for directing, encouraging and overseeing the education/training system and drawing up an aquaculture teaching programme in conjunction with the Universities concerned. This approach should be backed up by the establishment of an aquaculture pilot centre equipped with all the necessary facilities, to enable it in particular to provide practical marine aquaculture training.
Trends, issues and development
The institutional instability of the management of the sector has held back the development of aquaculture, contributing to the backwardness of this livestock production area.
The establishment of the Ministry of Fisheries and Fish Resources in December 1999 made it possible, thanks to the specific sectoral policy which was introduced, to provide aquaculture with the instruments under resources needed for its development and advancement.
The actions and measures adopted within the framework of the aquaculture development strategy, whose main objectives are to support production and food security, are firmly consolidated both upstream (through institutional, legal and financial instruments) and downstream (through measures to accompany research, development and training). The following have been produced as a result:
The Fisheries and Aquaculture Act.
The National Plan for the Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture.
The National Plan for the Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture 2003-2007.
The Economic Recovery Support Programme.
The Research-Development Sector Map.
The Training Sector Map.
The National Plan for the Development of Fisheries and Aquaculture (PNDPA) plans activities linked to public and private projects:
Public aquaculture projects emphasising demonstration and production support.
Private aquaculture projects for the aquaculture production areas planned under the PNDPA are financially supported through the Economic Recovery Support Programme which, depending on the location of the project, provides subsidies of between 40 percent and 80 percent of the project cost. These projects also attract fiscal and parafiscal incentives during the first 10 years of operation.
Additionally, one of the priorities of the strategy to develop the sector is to raise rural living standards by implementing integrated income-generating and employment-creation projects, the programmed projects to capitalise on the potential of the rural areas by establishing activity hubs in the less favoured regions.
Current negotiations for the ratification of the association agreement with the European Union and for accession to the World Trade Organisation have led to the inclusion of this sector in a process designed to guarantee the establishment of management systems to enable it to meet market demands in terms of service and product quality. At international events such as the Salon national de la pêche et de l'aquaculture, the Ministry of Fisheries and Fish Resources urges experts from international organisations, through the Chambre nationale de la pêche et de l'aquaculture, to encourage professionals in this sector to certify their entreprise and submit their products to the traceability procedure.