replaces: Arabic version (2005), Spanish version (2005), French version (2005), Chinese version (2005)
The geographical, climatic and water conditions in Slovenia are favourable for cold-water fish husbandry. Relatively small streams and water sources are the main reason why small-scale fish farms are the most common aquaculture enterprises. Production capacities of recorded freshwater fish farms have shown that cold-water fish farms had 150 ponds (58 000 m3) and recorded warm-water fish farms had 35 ponds (497 ha). In mariculture the total area under fish farming production was 18 000 m3, and under mussel farming production it was 46 ha.
In 2013, 231 persons were involved in aquaculture activities in Slovenia. Of these 192 persons were employed in freshwater fish farming and 39 persons in marine fish and shellfish farming. The aquaculture sector is characterized by mainly small self-employed family farms, most of which have one employee and some are assisted by unpaid family members.
The major species contributing most of the production value in freshwater fish farming are rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and common carp (Cyprinus carpio), whilst in mariculture it is Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) and European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax).
Total aquaculture production in 2013 was 1 154 tonnes, of which 635 tonnes comprised freshwater fish, 156 tonnes warmwater fish and 377 tonnes comprised marine fish (52 tonnes) and shellfish (311 tonnes). The average production value of the fisheries sector (fishing and aquaculture) in 2013 was around 4.67 million EUR (current prices).
Slovenia is a net importer of fish and fish products. In 2013 imports were approximately four times larger than exports. There is a continuous import of fresh farmed species: gilthead seabream, European seabass and salmons. The majority of the imported fish products come mainly from the European Union and are frozen, dried or processed.
The history of Slovenian freshwater aquaculture goes back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when fish breeding was in the custody of the church, monasteries and squires. In 1870 the first fish farm for artificial carp breeding (common carp, Cyprinus carpio) in Slovenia was established and experience from Germany, Bohemia and Hungary was used. In 1881, with the first successful artificial insemination of brown trout made by professor Ivan Franke, fish farming of salmonids began. At the beginning of the twentieth century the successful breeding of brown trout (Salmo trutta fario), marble trout (S. marmoratus), rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) as well as Danube salmon (Hucho hucho) was already taking place. After that time freshwater aquaculture development slowed down, and although some large "cooperatives" owned freshwater farms and a few small private farms were present, the production of freshwater fish was low and more or less stagnated until the 1950s.
Between the 1950s and 1980s, some larger facilities for fish farming were constructed that were state-owned, which were privatised after Slovenian independence in 1991. After this period, smaller fish farms developed, also in connection to farming activities.
Since 1980 there has been a significant development in mariculture, first in farming Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis), and from 1992 with European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata).
Great progress in fish farming was achieved in 1991 when the Slovenian government decided to actively invest in aquaculture. The introduction of subsidies for new farms led to the enlargement of already existent farming capacities, the organization of an advisory office for fish farming and the introduction of procedures for easier and faster acquisition of locations suitable for constructing new fish farms for aquaculture production. However, the production of cold-water species (the production of rainbow trout accounts for around 91 percent) doubled during the last five years because of satisfactory legislation. The production of carp and other warm-water species remained stagnant.
Besides the above mentioned species, other species produced in cold-water fish farming are grayling (Thymallus thymallus), lake trout (Salmo trutta lacustris) and char (Salvelinus alpinus). The non indigenous species rainbow trout is bred mainly for the market and recreational fishing, while the indigenous species such as brown trout, marble trout and lake trout, Danube salmon and grayling are bred for the natural waters restocking. Warm-water fish farming consists of the breeding of many cyprinid species, but economically important are the semi-intensive or extensive polyculture breeding of common carp (Cyprinus carpio), grass carp ( Ctenopharyngodon idellus ), silver carp ( Hypophthalmichthys molitrix ), bighead carp ( Hypophthalmichthys nobilis ), pike (Esox lucius), wels (Silurus glanis), pike perch (Stizostedion lucioperca), tench (Tinca tinca) and North African catfish ( Clarias gariepinus). All these species are mainly produced for the national market and recreational fishing. The breeds, nase (Chondrostoma nasus) and danube roach (Rutilus pigus) are occasionally produced in small quantities, only for the natural waters restocking.
The breeding of cold-water species at the end of the nineteenth century was practiced mainly through semi-intensive production in earth ponds, and this means of production continued until the 1970s, when a new technology in concrete ponds and the use of complete dry feed for salmonids was progressively introduced. Later in the 1980s, and especially in the 1990s, most of the facilities were already based on concrete ponds and several new farms were designed to promote fish production in concrete raceways. Warm-water breeding practice started as extensive production in ponds and much later, at the end of the nineteenth century, became semi–intensive production. This means of production remained almost the same in recent times when the earthen ponds are harvested in the autumn or early spring.
The expansion of warm-water aquaculture production is very limited in Slovenia due to the spatial restrictions and stringent conditions concerning nature conservation.
Mariculture practice is traditional. Fish farming takes place in cages submerged into the sea, while mussel farming takes place in a standard manner in lines of floating buoys linked together, with longline nets hung from them. In 2007, three larger areas were designated for marine aquaculture in Slovenian territorial waters that were subsequently separated into 29 plots, for which concessions were granted for the use of marine water in 2009. It is expected that these plots will not be able to expand, due to the use of Slovenian territorial waters for other purposes.
In 2013, the total aquaculture production was 1 234 tonnes. Of that 691.5 tonnes were cold-water fish (3.8 percent less than in 2012), and 165 tonnes were warm-water fish. In mariculture the total quantity of bred marine fish and shellfish was 422 tonnes. Farmers produced 57 tonnes of fish and 365 tonnes of shellfish.
Persons employed in aquaculture in Slovenia 2013
In 2008, a central register of aquaculture facilities and commercial ponds was set up in Slovenia, which is administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food. In this register, all the facilities are registered where fish are farmed for consumption, restocking and further breeding. Currently, there are 277 aquaculture facilities in the register. Most of them are small family farms with an annual production of less than 10 tonnes which mainly covers local needs for fresh fish. Almost 80 percent of total warm-water fish production is bred in five larger aquaculture facilities with a capacity greater than 10 tonnes per year.
From the 277 aquaculture facilities in Slovenia, there are 22 marine aquaculture facilities, 2 of which are for fish farming, while the remaining 20 facilities are for shellfish farming. There are 255 freshwater aquaculture facilities. Of these, there are 98 cold-water aquaculture facilities that farm fish for sale; there are 52 cold-water facilities that produce fish for own consumption; there are 40 warm-water aquaculture facilities that breed fish for sale; 49 warm-water facilities producing fish for own consumption; in addition, there are 15 ponds for inland sports fishing and 1 aquaculture facility for farming freshwater crustaceans (put-and-take).
As of 2013, the utilized volume of all ponds for cold-water fish farming was 58 000 m3 and the total surface area of all ponds used for warm-water fish farming was 498 ha.
The situation in marine fish farming is more distinct. The total volume for breeding fish at sea (excluding shellfish farming) in 2013 was 18 000 m3. The volume of the plots at sea that are used for shellfish farming was 46 ha.
In 2014, there were 27 aquaculture facilities in Slovenia that also included facilities for breeding fingerlings. According to the latest data there are 5 organic aquaculture farms in Slovenia, however with very low production capacity.
Mariculture shellfish farming is more important than fish farming. The major and the only cultured shellfish species, Mediterranean mussel ( Mytilus galloprovincialis ), accounts for 83 percent of total mariculture production. The production of European seabass ( Dicentrarchus labrax ) is more important than the production of gilthead seabream ( Sparus aurata ). It contributes 17 percent to total mariculture production.
Since the early eighties (1982) the production of the Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) has been increasing and in 1988 it reached a maximum of 703 tonnes. After that year a significant decline was due to the fact that exports to Italy ceased. In 1995 the production of mussels reached a minimum of 12 tonnes. In recent years, there are increases in production, particularly due to the resolution of the status of shellfish production facilities through the granting of concessions for the use of marine water: first in 2001 and then in 2003, when production reached 135 tonnes, the highest since 1992. There was also a peak in production in 2009, with 311 tonnes of Mediterranean mussels produced and in 2010 due to occurrence of biotoxins. Current production covers mainly the needs of the domestic market. In recent years, considerable difficulties occurred in the production of shellfish due to the frequent closures of sales because of the occurrence of biotoxins, which prevents shellfish farms to be used to their full production capacity.
From 1991 onwards intensification was carried out especially with farming European seabass and gilthead seabream in the Bay of Piran. A first result of European seabass production in 1992 was 5.7 tonnes. In subsequent years annual variations in production (growth and decline) were noted. In 2001 production reached its maximum with 59 tonnes, and very similar amounts were noted in 2003.
The first results of gilthead seabream production in 1992 were 4 tonnes. In the following years there was a growth in production, with some variations, until 1997 when production reached a maximum of 61 tonnes. After that year production declined and reached a minimum of 6 tonnes in 2001. In 2003 production was 16 tonnes. In 2009, there was no production of gilthead seabream.
The relative importance of endemic, introduced and transferred species, as well as genetically improved species in the aquaculture industry is generally very low. Of the 22 endemic species of the Adriatic or Danube river basins, breeding is only carried out for marble trout, Danube salmon and Danube roach. This breeding is important with respect to conservation and sports fishing, but it is rather insignificant for the aquaculture industry. However if rainbow trout and breeding forms of common carp are included as introduced species as conservationists do, then the production of introduced species in the aquaculture industry is very important.
In Slovenia, inland commercial fishing is prohibited and only sports and recreational fishing is allowed. Due to the limited quantities of inland fisheries resources, inland waters have to be restocked, for repopulation as well as for sports fishing.
Cold-water fish production usually takes place in commercial fish farms with broodstocks, hatchery and ponds for fingerlings situated on cold and well aerated streams. The intensification in breeding technology and numerous reconstructions of existent fish farms were carried out from 1995. The reconstructions consisted of improved water exploitation. New and reconstructed fish farms have mostly concrete breeding channels, where the water flow and oxygen conditions are much better than in old earth ponds with poor water exchange.
All production in cold-water fish farming results from intensive breeding. –More than 90 per cent of production takes place in concrete and plastic ponds, and the rest in terrestrial ponds.
Warm-water aquaculture practice is traditional, in fish farms with earthen ponds and water accumulations harvested in autumn or in the early spring. In the past only a few ponds were built exclusively for the purpose of breeding warm-water fish species. More often breeding is a secondary activity in water bodies made for irrigation in agriculture or by flood defense. Approximately 80 percent of wam-water fish production in Slovenia is produced in 4 large retarding basins (storage dams), where extensive breeding with additional feeding takes place.
Official statistical data on the methodology and technology of warm-water breeding is not available, but it is estimated that the majority of production originates from semi-intensive polyculture ponds. The rest is from extensive polyculture ponds. The intensive culture of warm-water fish for consumption in Slovenia does not exist.
Marine fish farming practice is normally intensive and takes place in floating platforms where the cages are submerged into the sea. Shellfish farming practice is extensive and takes place in lines of floating buoys linked together, where longlines with mussels are suspended.
In 2013 freshwater fish farmers produced 582 tonnes of rainbow trout (95 percent of total cold-water fish production) and 123 tonnes of common carp (92 percent of total warm-water fish production). Compared to 2012, the production of rainbow trout was 25.5 tonnes and that of common carp 14.3 lower. The production of other cold-water fish was 68 tonnes and of other warm-water fish 22 tonnes.
Marine shellfish farmers produced 327 tonnes of Mediterranean mussel (77 percent of total mariculture production) and fish farmers produced 55 tonnes of European seabass.
The graph below shows total aquaculture production in Slovenia according to FAO statistics:
Fresh and frozen fish trading in Slovenia is organised through various networks. Fish produced on fish farms is marketed through the following main channels: wholesalers, retailers, processing plants, anglers and exports. Irrespective of its quite rich history, aquaculture production is rather small. It is self-sufficient and is mostly orientated towards sales in the neighbourhood. There has been a slight trend towards sales from local fish farmer communities to stores and supermarket chains. Fish markets are located in almost all Slovene cities, and in almost every store it is possible to buy at least frozen fish. The fish markets usually have their own supply, often directly from producers.
Slovenia is a net importer of fish and fish products. In 2013, there were 9 828 tonnes of imports of fisheries products into Slovenia and 570 tonnes of exports, while there were 4 930 tonnes of imports of processed fisheries products and 2 681 tonnes of exports of processed fisheries products. This means that the amount of imports of fisheries products was about five times higher than the amount of exports.
The bulk of this trade was with Italy, Spain, Croatia and Austria. In 2013, Slovenia imported 2 243 tonnes of fisheries products from Italy, and 1 870 of processed fisheries products, while it exported 114 tonnes of fisheries products and 28 tonnes of processed fisheries products to Italy. From Spain, 2 162 of fisheries products and 752 tonnes of processed fisheries products were imported, while Slovenia exported only 1 tonne of fisheries products and 1 tonne of processed fisheries products to Spain. Slovenia imported 1 310 tonnes of fisheries products and 484 tonnes of processed fisheries products from Croatia and exported 287 tonnes of fisheries products and 346 tonnes of processed fisheries products to Croatia. To Austria, however, Slovenia exported 56 tonnes of fisheries products and 1 197 tonnes of processed fisheries products, and imported 27 tonnes of fisheries products and 456 tonnes of processed fisheries products from Austria.
With respect to labelling, there is one producer of aquaculture products in Slovenia who recently acquired the EC ecolabel.
According to FAO data, per capita supply of fish for Slovenia was about 10 kg in 2011. Considering the production of the main cold-water species in Slovenia, trout, and the fact that imports of trout into Slovenia in 2013 amounted to about 413 and exports to 13 tonnes, it seems that domestic production is mostly consumed in Slovenia. There were no exports of carp so it can be considered that domestic production of this species was consumed in Slovenia as well. Also, it appears that most of the production of marine aquaculture is consumed in Slovenia, as there were 373 tonnes of imports of European seabass in Slovenia in 2013 (European seabass represents the main marine aquaculture fish species) and 4 tonnes of exports; and there were about 153 tonnes of imports of mussels into Slovenia but only 23 tonnes of exports.
The Directorate manages that part of the state budget which is designed for fisheries and aquaculture. The funds are used for a variety of purposes, including the financing of the setting up and the management of fisheries information systems; financing of performing public service in fisheries by the Fisheries research institute of Slovenia; for the protection of natural resources in fisheries; for the implementation of measures of the Operational Programme for Fisheries Development in the Republic of Slovenia 2007-2013; as well as for the collection of data in and monitoring in fisheries.
The Inspectorate for Agriculture, Forestry, Hunting and Fisheries is responsible for the market control of fish and fisheries products and for monitoring at sea. The inspectorate is under the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food.
There are no producers’ organisations dealing with freshwater or mariculture in Slovenia.
There is no institution setting research priorities in aquaculture in Slovenia. Specific projects are financed from various Government competitive grant funds provided mainly by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food, but other ministries can also finance aquaculture related projects based on their potential applicability. Research activities concerned with marine fish are closely connected with international cooperation, but at the present time they only deal with fish biology.
Non-government institutions and farmers are only exceptionally included in research activities. The same is the case with on-farm participatory research. The verification and transmission of research results is rather poor and based mainly on personal contacts between experts and fish farmers. The small scope of aquaculture is also reflected in research.
Advanced level training in aquaculture is not so well developed and only offered at the Biotechnical faculty for one semester during its BSc training programme. MSc and PhD programmes also exist, but in practice do not happen very often. Lower-level education in fisheries and aquaculture is offered as secondary education programmes. The farmers are thus more or less self-educated.
By means of different state subsidies many existing fish farms have been reconstructed, new ones have been built and freshwater fish production has increased. In mariculture the decrease in shellfish production has been reversed and growth has been re-established. Sea fish breeding has begun and has been slowly increasing, although with some annual variations. Some progress has also been made in the organization of fish farming, in ensuring an adequate legislative and economic framework for aquaculture and fisheries, and in providing related legislative control tasks. In particular, in 2009, the status of marine mussel farms was defined through the granting of concessions for the use of marine water by the Ministry of Environment.
For the freshwater aquaculture sector in Slovenia, the entry into the EU brought a more difficult situation due to the low prices of imported fish products from countries with more intensive aquaculture. Due to the specific situation of Slovenian aquaculture (small fish farms with smaller capacities), it has difficulties competing on the market and is thus more oriented towards local markets.
Within the framework of the Common Fisheries Policy and through the Single Programming Document in the period 2004-2006, fish farms were modernised and renewed, in particular fish farms for farming cold-water fish. Within the framework of the European Fisheries Fund in the programming period 2007-2013, the measure called Productive investments in aquaculture is implemented with respect to fish farms. This measure is intended to be continued in the future financial perspective 2014-2020 accompanied by other measures putting more stress to environmental measures. The funds have been so far mainly used to renew shellfish farms and facilities for marine aquaculture.
In the future we intend to support also research projects such as: analysis of potential possibilities in fish farming development in Slovenia with regards to spatial and hydrological circumstances and research into the possibility of economic farming of new species. It is also reasonable to continue with investment in the modernization of older fish farms, especially the improvement of hygienic conditions and the construction of new fish farms which comply with EU legislation technologically and ecologically.
Since there are no producers’ organisations in Slovenia, there are two promoters for the growth of aquaculture working within the Slovenian Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry. Their task is to help aquaculture operators through expert advice on the possibilities of setting up fish farms, as well as on the feeding of fish and prevention from diseases to those operators who already have fish farms.
The strategic vision of Slovenian aquaculture is included into the National Strategic Plan for Fisheries Development in the Republic of Slovenia 2014-2020, which has been prepared in accordance with the relevant EU legislation. The vision aims at achieving high level of competitiveness of aquaculture on the domestic and European market by encouraging the use of methods that reduce the negative impact of aquaculture on environment and the development of new species with good marketing possibilities.
Human Development Report
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food
Ministry of the Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy
Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (SORS)