The aquaculture sector in Montenegro comprises three sub-sectors: rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Mediterranean mussel (Mythilus galoprovincialis), gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax).
There are 26 rainbow trout farms, 16 Mediterranean mussel farms and two gilthead seabream/European seabass farms. All the fish farms use the intensive culture system and are divided into farms with full cycled production and specialized production.
During the period 2007–2010, the average annual production of rainbow trout, European seabass/gilthead seabream and Mediterranean mussel was 268 tonnes, 78 tonnes and 174 tonnes respectively. The farmed species are sold mostly to small retailers, restaurants, hotels and on the market stalls.
Montenegro exports some quantities of farmed rainbow trout to neighbouring countries as well as small quantities of Mediterranean mussel to Serbia.
About 150 employees are estimated to be involved in the aquaculture sector.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Montenegro supports scientific research into aquaculture. This is carried out by the Institute for Marine Biology in Kotor. Higher education in aquaculture is offered.
The contribution of the aquaculture in the Montenegrin national economy is insignificant, but there is potential for development. Modernisation of the sector and diversification in production, as well as training and education could provide this potential.
The Montenegrin aquaculture sector consists of three sub-sectors: rainbow trout, Mediterranean mussel, gilthead seabream and European seabass.
There are very favourable conditions for the production of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in Montenegro. The first farms were established in the 1950’s, and there are now 23 farms, using raceway production. There are also three farms which use the cage system of farming and which are located on the lakes, one on Lake Piva second on Lake Krupac and third farm on Lake Skadar.
The production of carp (Cyprinus carpio) started in 1974 with one farm close to Podgorica. During its existence it reached a production of about 100 tonnes per year. In 1986 farm was closed due to low investment, technical problems and lack of market outlets. Since then, there has been no carp production in Montenegro.
Some interest has recently been shown in the farming of other freshwater species such as adriatic sturgeon (Acipenser naccarii), arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus alpinus), hybrid “baster” (Acipenser ruthenus and Huso huso), but they are all at the stage of pilot projects and no significant production has yet been achieved. Some pilot projects have also been carried out into farming certain freshwater species for the purpose of restocking the natural habitats.
The tradition of commercial farming of Mediterranean mussel goes back 20 years, although initial experiments into the possibility of producing edible bivalves (oysters and mussels) began in the 1960’s in Boka Kotorska Bay, run by the Institute of Marine Biology in Kotor. However, there are some indications that certain bivalve species were cultivated in this bay a hundred years ago. There are now 16 farms rearing Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis), all situated in Boka Kotorska Bay, using the longline system of production. Two farms are licensed to produce oyster (Ostrea edulis) with a combined capacity to produce 130 000 oysters/year, but there is currently no commercial production.
The production of European seabass and gilthead seabream is the most recent branch of the aquaculture sector. It began in the late 1990’s with gilthead seabream and European seabass farms owned by one private company. Another company established another European seabass and gilthead seabream farm in 2006. All farms use the cage system of production and are situated in Boka Kotorska Bay.
The available statistical data on human resources indicates that there are about 100 employees in the rainbow trout sector. There are estimated to be an additional 40 employees in the European seabass/gilthead seabream and Mediterranean mussel sectors together.
Given the ecology of the rainbow trout as a species, all the farms are established near or on water bodies providing a clear, cold, abundant and constant supply of water. However, some of them have to deal with the problem of insufficient quantities of water due to an out-dated water supply system. They are all situated mostly in the central and northern parts of the country, near the rivers or on the lakes, but there is no precise data on the surface areas that they occupy. As previously stated, there are 23 farms using concrete raceways (ponds) and three situated on the lakes using a cage system of farming. These are mostly small, family owned farms (or owned by small enterprises), producing 5–20 tonnes per year with the exception of four larger farms which produce 50–130 tonnes per year, and which are run by private companies.
There are two European seabass/gilthead seabream inshore farms owned by two private companies. Both are situated in the Boka Kotorska Bay. Total annual production on the both the European seabass/gilthead seabream farms is 120 tonnes (2010).
Mediterranean mussel are cultivated on around 16 small farms, each producing 5 to 30 tonnes per year. These are family run businesses, all located in Boka Kotorska Bay where the oceanographic, physical, chemical and biological conditions are suitable for the type of rearing used on these farms. The culture system used in Montenegro is similar in all the operations, with small changes due to different local oceanographic, bathometric and biological conditions. Other modifications to the general model are due the personal preferences of owners or to trials being carried by individual farmers. Basically, it is a longline production system.
The only cultivated freshwater species is rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).
The mariculture species are: European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax), gilthead gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis).
The biggest cage farm, also one of the biggest farms in Montenegro, is the one on Lake Piva and produces around 100 – 130 tonnes per year. It is a farm with a full production cycled system with square and round cages bound with an iron/plastic frame used for rearing fish. Hatchery facilities are situated on the nearby river. The other two cage farms are specialized for growing fish to marketable size.
Both European seabass/gilthead seabream farms use inshore cages which are round and made of plastic (flexible). These are small-scale farms which produce 120 tonnes (2010) of both sea bas and gilthead seabream. These are the rearing farms only and the fingerlings are imported.
All 16 Mediterranean mussel farms use the longline of production system from aboard. The Mediterranean mussel spat is collected from the main ropes where they have been attached and is then placed in plastic nets (using the PVC tubes) to be attached to the ropes (the lower 1.5 m part of the ropes) which are then hung on the horizontal main ropes extended between the plastic buoys. They use no more than 3 m of the water column in costal zones and are at a maximum depth of approximately 25 to 35 m. The growing period is between 15 to 18 months. There is no modern mechanization and almost all the procedures are carried out manually.
In the period 2007–2010 the apparent consumption of aquatic products was 19 073 tonnes with a yearly average of 4 768 tonnes implying average per capita consumption of about 7.61 kg. In the same period, the average per capita consumption of fish and fish product was 3.75kg. A more realistic estimate of national per capita consumption should take into account all sources of supply and demand from tourists.
In the period 2007–2010 total imports of aquatic products into Montenegro were 12 734 tonnes. Seventy-two percent of the imports were processed fish, 17.4 percent were molluscs, 3.3 percent crustaceans, and 7.0 percent of imports were of fresh and live fish. In the same period Montenegro exported 697 tonnes of aquatic products: 14.3 percent of them were molluscs (fresh), 12.2 percent of them fresh and live fish, 71.3 percent processed fish (mainly preserved) and 2.2 percent crustaceans (fresh).
Montenegro exports, of aquaculture products, only trout and mussels (the quantities are not estimated). The farmed European seabass and gilthead seabream are not exported, neither as fry or for consumption.
The data points to a high consumer preference for whole fresh fish. The processed fish is used preferably as frozen and filleted. Other processed fish consumed are smoked, dried, canned etc.
In the period 2007-2010 the average prices of farmed rainbow trout, European seabass/gilthead seabream and Mediterranean mussel were EUR 4.3/kg, EUR 8.1/kg, and EUR 1.5/kg respectively.
In the same period, all farmed species are sold mostly to small retailers, restaurants, hotels and at public market places.
The contribution of the aquaculture in the Montenegrin national economy is insignificant.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Montenegro is the administrative body in charge of the marine and freshwater fisheries and aquaculture. All activities in the fisheries sector are undertaken by four advisors.
Food safety issues on the farms and of the products are monitored and controlled by the Veterinary Directorate, the Ministry of Health and by various Laboratories (Veterinary, Public Health, Eco-Toxicology).
The Institute of Marine Biology in Kotor provides the necessary data in the field of mariculture. The Faculty of Biology in Podgorica provides the data for the rearing of freshwater species.
The Statistical Office of Montenegro is in charge of preparing and implementing numerous statistical research including aquaculture.
All the relevant issues regarding aquaculture in Montenegro are regulated by the following National Laws.
The Law on Marine Fishery and Mariculture, adopted in 2009, lays down the conditions for farming of fish and other marine organisms in locations planned in line with the Mariculture Development Plan, which has to be in accordance with the National Fishery Development Strategy. Mariculture activities are carried out in accordance with the principles of Good Manufacturing Practice in mariculture, while adherence to the principles will be taken into account in the procedure of issuing and cancelling the mariculture permits.
Production volume limits (minimal and maximal) and the programme of water quality monitoring and biomonitoring on the farms and around the farms are regulated by the Law on Marine Fishery and Mariculture. The aim is to give farm owners timely information about the appearance of pollution and natural phenomena, if any, which may have a negative impact on the mariculture zone and on mariculture products.
The Law on Freshwater Fishery lays down conditions for issuing licences to rainbow trout farms. The Law also prescribes the monitoring of water on and around the farms and this is carried out by the relevant national authority.
The National Law on Food Safety lays down: food and feed safety requirements, market regulation, declaration, labelling, presentation and marketing promotion of food and feed, materials, packing and objects that come into contact with food or feed, food and feed additives, fast frozen food, genetically modified food and feed, water requirements, traceability, withdrawal of unsafe food and feed from the market, common food and feed hygienic conditions (primary production conditions, production and market conditions and HACCP procedures in entities dealing with food or feed production and marketing), licensing of the facilities etc.
The Law on Sanitary Control of Foodstuffs lays down general hygiene norms. Special regulations prescribe minimal technical conditions for the facilities: production, manufacture, processing, storage, transportation and the sale of fish and fish products.
The National Law on Animal Welfare Protection deals with issues of farmed animal protection during the capture period (production): building and maintenance of farming facilities, feeding and watering, animal movement, attendance in case of illness or injury, protection during the transportation and keeping conditions.
One of the roles of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Montenegro is to support the numerous scientific research in the field of aquaculture. This refers mainly to experiments into rearing autochthonous fish species for restocking purposes. These projects are carried out by the Faculty of Biology in Podgorica.
The Institute carries out scientific research in the field of mariculture for Marine Biology in Kotor. This includes various experimental projects into farming European flat oysters (Ostrea edulis) and Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis), as well as the Sea trout (Salmo trutta) in seawater conditions. In collaboration with the Italian Research Institute from Trieste, short training courses are organized for Mediterranean mussel farm owners and operators.
Mediterranean mussel farmers and fisheries sector staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have been introduced to Mediterranean mussel farming experiences in some EU countries through EU funded projects of technical support to the fishery sector.
Higher education in aquaculture is offered as a subject at the Faculty of Agriculture and can be chosen as post-graduate studies for MSc at the Faculty of Biology.
Although the economic value of the aquaculture sector is currently very low, the Montenegrin aquaculture seems to have a great potential for future development.
To make the sector more effective, total production should be increased, farms should be modernized, including the production techniques and staff skills. There should be an added value production and diversification of farmed species. The procedures ensuring health product and traceability must also be applied, as already anticipated by the various National Laws. The current low national consumption of aquatic products should be increased through promotion campaigns for the consumption of wild and farmed aquatic species, as well as promoting healthy life styles.
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro. 2011. Fishery Sector Study for the IPARD Programme; Project Sustainable Management of Marine Fishery Ref. No: EuropeAid/128947/C/SER/ME, Podgorica.
MONSTAT Statistical Office of Montenegro. Year Book. Podgorica.
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of Montenegro and the European Agency for Reconstruction. 2006. Montenegro’s Fisheries Development Strategy and capacity building for implementation of EU common fisheries policy. Podgorica.
M. Sljivancanin. 2008. Montenegrin National Aquaculture Market Report. Prepared for the FAO project: support to the GFCM working group on marketing on aquaculture products: Development of a strategy for marketing and promotion of Mediterranean aquaculture.