Aquaculture projects are strictly regulated by a permit system based on clearances issued by various agencies responsible for spatial planning and environmental protection, health protection, protection of antiquities, commercial fisheries, tourism, recreation, nature conservation and wildlife. The licensing authorities that coordinate the relevant powers of the competent agencies are the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Islands and Fisheries/Directorate for Aquaculture and Inland Waters and the Ministry for the Environment, Energy and Climate Change.
The aquaculture sector operates at a central-decentralized & regional administration, as the country’s administrative system is divided into: (i) the central administration (Ministries) (ii) the decentralized administration (seven decentralized administrations) (iii) the regional authorities (13 regions) with 74 regional units and (iv) the local authorities (324 municipalities). The decision makers take also into account the perception of the local population to the project and the relationship of the proposed project to other projects operating in the area. In general the regional differences in policy and licenses are mainly granted on the basis of site-specific (spatial planning and environmental) criteria. From the environmental point of view, Greece has been divided into “sensitive” and “very sensitive” regions; fish farming is usually not permitted in the “very sensitive regions”.
In the present report, we discuss the legislation concerning site selection and the requirements which must be met for the establishment and operation of intensive and semi-intensive aquaculture sites (ongrowing cage farm units, shellfish farms, land based farms, hatcheries with associated land-based facilities for marine and freshwater species etc.).
In addition, environmental protection measures dictate sustainable management of natural resources and the preservation of biodiversity. The need to encompass all these factors has resulted in a major change from quantitative to qualitative production.
By virtue of its membership of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Greece subscribes to the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (1995).
Greek agriculture today is mainly focused on the production of high quality, certified products produced by innovative procedures compatible with sustainable development principles. Improved quality and the resulting increase in value of Greek agricultural products will be achieved through technological innovations resulting from focused, well-coordinated agricultural research.
In addition to compliance with EU food safety regulation and conformation to the sanitary rules, Greece’s commitment to food safety and quality have led to the certification of Greek Aquaculture products according to National Standards:
The Agricultural Products Certification and Supervision Organization, under the distinctive title AGROCERT, is a private legal entity operating for the public benefit under the supervision of the Ministry of Rural Development and Food. It is responsible for the implementation of national policy on quality in agriculture.
The main competences of AGROCERT are the following:
AGRO 4 – 1 Production Specification & Product Quality Control
AGRO 4 – 2 Specification of Packaging Facilities Operation
The standards AGRO 4 - 1 and AGRO 4 - 2 give fish farming companies the opportunity to develop a management system for quality assurance of fish farming products and enhance their dynamic products, increase their added value and gain consumer confidence in highly competitive markets (AGROCERT).
There is a Code of Conduct for responsible practices in the Greek Aquaculture sector and a set of self-control documents/forms for Greek Aquaculture establishments issued in 2001, that include all responsible practices in the Greek Aquaculture sector, mention production processes that secure the protection of the environment, security and health of the consumer groups as well as the welfare of bred fish.
This Code was conducted by the consultants of Greek Fisheries Quality, was controlled by the Commission of Icthyopathology of the Federation of Greek Maricultures and was accredited by the administrative council of the Federation of Greek Maricultures. It was based on the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the Code of Conduct of Shetland Salmon Farmers Association as well as on the Quality Standards AGRO 4 of AGROCERT.
Its main scope is to use the principles of all mentioned documents focusing mainly on AGRO 4 Standards of AGROCERT for the training of Greek aquaculturers on the qualifications that lead to the certification of fish produced by aquaculture farms (especially European seabass and gilthead seabream).
Conformation with this Code which is a basic technical tool to support Greek marine maricultures, and especially the principles introduced by AGROCERT which are the basic reference points of the quality badge, will improve the quality of the product and result in its certification. Moreover, added value of the product will be enhanced; great profit will arise contributing to the improvement of the cooperation with Control Authorities, as well as the trustfulness of the buyers concerning the safety, quality and hygiene of the final product.
The AGRO 4-1 Production Specification and Product Quality Control and AGRO 4-2 Specification of Packaging Facilities Operation Standards are in the course of being discussed with stakeholders in order to be widely adopted and the implementation procedures be put in action.
Furthermore, in the context of the acts of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, the Centre for Professional Constitution (ΚΕΚ), the Federation of Greek Maricultures and the Hellenic Union of Technologists-Icthyologists have implemented the following programme: “AQUASAFE – Work Safety and Health risk prevention for aquaculture”. The object of this programme is to provide effective guidelines in order to minimize the risks for the people working in medium enterprises. The scope is to determine the occupational risks rising up in an aquaculture unit, with simultaneous promotion of the viewpoint of a safe and healthy working environment.
Greece is a partner to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) , to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Greece is a Member of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and of the World Trade Organization (WTO) .
Greece accessed to the Kyoto Protocol and ratified the Cartegena Protocol on Biosafety.
At a national level
i) The federation of Greek Maricultures represents Greek aquaculture enterprises that produce Mediterranean euryhaline fish and especially European seabass and gilthead seabream. It is also a professional union and a member of the Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (F.E.A.P). The federation was founded in 1991 and its purpose is to promote the aquaculture sector and its benefits in Greece and abroad.
It is the official representative of the sector in cases involving Public Services, Agents and Organizations. It takes part in research and educational programmes concerning aquaculture and supports the dissemination of information through its members. The Federation also organizes activities to advertise and promote aquaculture products (Federation of Greek Maricultures).
ii) The Hellenic Centre for Marine Research was set up as a single institution in order to integrate government-funded marine science research in Greece. Formally established by government decree on 3 June 2003, it combines the former research institutes the National Centre for Marine Research (NCMR) and the Institute of Marine Biology of Crete (IMBC), together with their respective field stations (Hellenic Centre for Marine Research). Its current structure comprises five institutes, which carry out research into specific thematic areas:
iv) The Fisheries Research Institute (F.R.I) is one of the five specialized research institutes of NAGREF, responsible for conducting research and promoting technology and knowledge in the fishery sector. The Institute is located approximately 17 km away from the city of Kavala, at the centre of an area with rich fishery grounds and high biodiversity in the surrounding coastal areas, lagoons, lakes and rivers. The research activities of F.R.I. cover a wide range of fields in the marine research and applications sector. Four laboratories operate in F.R.I.:
The basic legal framework concerning concession, lease and re-lease of sites and project operation consists of:
Secondly, the procedures of leasing marine sites for shellfish farming are the same as those described for fish farms, besides that no site can be leased outside Shellfish Farming Zones as it has been determined by Presidential Decree No. 79/2007. According to the provisions of this Decree (article 25 – “Areas-zones of production or relocation of live bivalves”), special zones are determined with the respective Prefect’s decision, as suitable for production or relocation of bivalves ongrowing farms, after having obtained the approval of the Prefectural Veterinary Authority and the local Port Authorities.
Projects on the seashore and the coastal zone
Moreover, the basic legal framework governing the establishment and operation of projects on the seashore and the coastal zone contains the following:
Presidential Decree No. 51/2-3-2007: “Establishment of measures and procedures for the integrated management and protection of water sources, in compliance with Directive No. 2000/60/EC establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy” embodies all the terms referred to in the afore-mentioned Directive, into the national legal framework related to water policy. It also contains a thorough appendix for the classification of water sources and the parameters of water quality control. For the definition of the structure of the Directorate of Aquaculture in Inland Brackish and Freshwaters, Ministerial Decision No. 47630/16-11-2005 has been issued, while Ministerial Joint Decision No. 43504/5-12-2005 “Categories of Water Use Permits and drill permits, issuing procedure, content and duration” defines all the necessary documentation needed to obtain a Water Use Permit for all aquaculture projects, including land-based projects. The competent authority for issuing the Water Use Permit is the Regional Directorate of Waters.
In general, a potential fish or shellfish farmer must obtain a site lease from the competent authorities. Applicants are required to submit an application to the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food Authorities and according to Ministerial Decisions No. 69269/5387/25-10-1990 and No. 11014/700/Φ104/14-3-2003 to the Direction of Physical Planning of the Region, or the Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works, if the project is located in a “sensitive” area and consequently protected by special legislation (e.g. NATURA 2000 sites, sites protected by Ramsar convention).
For marine farm projects, when the applicant submits the application to the competent regional authority of the Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food, he/she should accompany the application by:
For freshwater farm projects, the authorities to whom the application should be submitted are identical to the above mentioned (Greek Ministry of Rural Development and Food or Greek Ministry for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works). In this case, the agencies consulted by the competent authority are the:
The current consultative system on new aquaculture project development as operated by the Ministry of Rural Development and Food ensures that the competent agencies make their views known to the Ministry decision makers with regard to individual lease applications. This consultative procedure has been in operation since the initial development of aquaculture in Greece and has been supplemented regularly over the years. The Ministry of Rural Development and Food administers on granting the lease as applied for, modifications thereof or refusal of the lease if the objections cannot be overcome through modifications.
Sites are usually leased for a ten-year period and farmers usually pay a flat rent ranging from 0.1€/m2/year for land leases and 0.15 €/m2/year for marine leases (average values), although the prices are adaptable after the first 3-4 years of rent. Establishment of a project is required to be within three years of the granting of the lease (Argyrou & Stergiou, 1993; NAYS ltd record data).
The legislative framework for spatial planning in Greece is Law 2742/1999 ‘Spatial Planning, Sustainable development and other provisions’. With regard to aquaculture, article 10 of this law requires the establishment of ‘Areas of Organized Development of Aquaculture Activities’, known as ‘POAY’ (acronym of the respective Greek terminology) . Taking into account the provisions of the law, the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate Change developed the ‘Strategic Plan for aquaculture’ in the year 2000, which proposed broader areas for development at a nationwide scale. According to the specifications and requirements of the Ministerial Decree No 17239/2002, studies for the definition of ‘POAY’ were conducted in various regions to identify areas for the development of aquaculture. These studies currently are in the stage of public consultation for their final implementation.
The development of ‘POAY’ has important benefits, both at a socio-economic and an environmental-management level. The spatial integration of aquaculture activities within ‘POAY’ guarantees their harmonious integration in the coastal zone and minimizes land-use conflicts. It also enables the vertical integration of productive activities, the reduction and mitigation of environmental impacts by taking appropriate measures (e.g. monitoring of the marine environment, R&D, fallowing etc), the support of innovative entrepreneurship and the promotion of local production.
The competent authorities for the environmental licensing of sites protected by special legislation (NATURA 2000, Ramsar contract etc.), is the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate Change or otherwise the regional services of the competent Ministry (Directorate of Physical Planning).
More specifically, according to Ministerial Decision No. 69269/5387/25-10-1990 and Ministerial Decision No. 11014/700/Φ104/14-3-2003, an Environmental Impact Assessment must also be submitted for installation and operation approval of an aquaculture project. The Environmental Impact Assessment requirement applies to all aquaculture projects, regardless of size. It serves as a management tool, ensuring that potential problems are foreseen and appropriate mitigatory measures are addressed and incorporated into the design and operation of the project.
In the case of land-based farms, a waste disposal study for the treatment of effluents before their discharge into receiving waters is needed, which is issued by the Prefectural Authority of the Ministry of Health Welfare and Social Security.
The Ministerial Decision No. OIK. 46399/1352/86 which refers to the quality of waters required for drinking, swimming, and supporting fish and shellfish life, methods of measurement, frequency of sampling and analysis is also valid.
Sanitary Provision E1B/221/65 determines all the procedures intended for wastewater disposal and to that context Ministerial Decision No. 222916/17-9-1991 was issued in order to clarify the application of the Sanitary Provision terms on marine and land-based aquaculture farms. Ministerial Decree No. 11/21-1-2002 (National Plan of Emergency) refers to the handling of oil or other pollution incidents involving dangerous substances.
Furthermore, in accordance with article 8 of the Directive, Greece “shall ensure that aquaculture production businesses keep a record of all movements of aquaculture animals and products thereof into and out of the farm or mollusc farming area”.
To control the spread of diseases, Greek farmers initially used antibiotics. Nowadays they use vaccines to protect farmed fish from diseases. Disease control mechanisms must comply with Council Directive 2006/88/EC on animal health requirements for aquaculture animals and products thereof, and on the prevention and control of certain diseases in aquatic animals. In accordance with article 7 of the Directive, “official controls on aquaculture production businesses and authorized processing establishments shall be carried out by the competent authority [...] The official controls shall at least consist of regular inspections, visits, audits, and where appropriate, sampling, for each aquaculture production business, taking account of the risk the aquaculture production business and authorized processing establishment poses in relation to the contracting and spreading of diseases”.
In accordance with article 9, Greece “shall ensure that aquaculture production businesses and authorized processing establishments implement good hygiene practice, as relevant for the activity concerned, to prevent the introduction and spreading of diseases”.
As a principle, “no veterinary medicinal product may be administered to animals unless the marketing authorization has been issued” (article 9).
Regulation No. 708/2007 concerning use of alien and locally absent species in aquaculture is also applied in Greece.
Regulation No. 535/2008 lays down the specific detailed rules concerning the Regulation No. 708/2007.
Regulation (EC) No. 506/2008 defines certain species to which Regulation No. 708/2007 does not apply.
Restrictions on the use of feed vary according to the type of feed used. As stated in every Environmental Impact Assessment document, fish food has to be used in the form of pellets, so as not to produce dust when dispersed.
- Circular No. 289663/23-12- 2003 was issued by the Veterinary and Public Health Service of the Hellenic Ministry of Rural Development and Food for the “Classification and disposal of animal by-products not intended for human consumption, according to the Regulation (EC) No. 1774/2002”.
- Circular No. 251996/9-2-2005 “Remote areas and incineration or landfill of animal by-products” was issued by the same Service to determine specific sites in Greece which can be characterized as “remote” and the categories of animal by-products on which the pre-mentioned methods can be applied (in line with the article 24 of the Regulation (E.C.) No. 1774/2002).
- Circular No. 280741/26-8-2004 was issued by the Veterinary and Public Health Service of the Hellenic Ministry of Rural Development and Food to define the difference between the incineration and the combustion of animal waste, as well as the difference between “landfill” and “sanitary landfill”, in the context of Regulation No. 1774/2002 - appendix I, the Directive (EC) No. 2000/76 “on the incineration of waste” and the SANCO/445/2004 “Guidance Note on the Application of Community Legislation regarding animal and public health and waste, to animal by-products”.
- Presidential Decree No. 28/ 5-3-2009: the existing aquaculture legislative framework complies with European Union Directives Nos. 2006/88/EC Council and 2008/53/EC. It establishes animal health requirements for aquaculture animals and products thereof and provides for the issuing of a special veterinary authorization for the operation of all production farms of aquaculture animals.
Greece’s commitment to food safety and quality has led to the certification of Greek Aquaculture products according to National Standards:
EFET, the Hellenic Food Authority, is responsible for defining quality standards for foodstuffs. It is supervised by the Ministry of Health and Social Solidarity.
Regarding the establishment of product quality control systems (HACCP) the legislation in Greece covering this issue is Ministerial Joint Decision No. 487/4-10-2000 on the hygiene of foodstuffs and Ministerial Joint Decision No. 052/11-5-2004.
The aquaculture sector developed rapidly since 1982 through a generous framework adopted by the European Union as well as the National investment legislation, contributing, among other aspects, to the stabilization of the negative balance in the fisheries products’ market.
Towards that direction, most of the aquaculture enterprises have been granted funds under E. U. Regulations (No. 2908/1983, No. 4028/1986, No. 3699/1993, No. 2792/1999) and also National legal framework (Developmental Laws No.1262/82, No. 1892/90, No 2601/98 and the latest one No 3299/2004, as it has been modified by Law No. 3522/2006).
Greek enterprises have made the most of these incentives to create new infrastructures and modernize already existing ones, taking all responsibility for keeping them in operation and reaching production levels as they have been planned, while operating in a stable investing environment.
Due to the difficult circumstances met on a global level, the aquaculture sector needs to be more supported, especially concerning the competitiveness of the aquaculture units and mainly because the aquaculture sector remains productive on a European level. As a result to that, the sector is more supported on an economical basis during the new programmatic period of the 4th Community Support Framework 2007-2013 under E. U. Regulation No. 1198/2006, according to which the European Fisheries Fund is established.
This Regulation corresponds to the new strategy concerning the healthy growth of the aquaculture sector, its objectives are to promote:
Ministry of Rural Development and Food. 2008. Operational Program for Fisheries Sector 2007-2013.
Federation of Greek Maricultures. 2006. Unpublished data.
Argyrou I. N. and K. I. Stergiou. 1992. Aquaculture in Greece: Environmental Legislation and Site Restrictions. Workshop on Fish Farm effluents and their control in EC countries, Hamburg.
Argyrou I. N. and K. I. Stergiou. 1994. Developmental trends and aquaculture perspectives in Greece. J. Appl. Icthyol. 10: 379-388.
Argyrou I. N. and E. A. Papaioannou. 2008. Aquaculture in Greece: Sustainable Development in the coastal zone. International Conference & Trade Exhibition 'Aquaculture Europe 2008-Resource Management'. Cracow, Poland.
Wiley-Praxis Aqualex: a glossary of aquaculture terms. Edited by Margaret Eleftheriou, John Wiley & sons. 1997, p. 26. 7
Klaoudatos S. D. 2001. Environmental impact assessment of Mediterranean aquaculture farms. Practical experiences in Greece. Cahier Options Mediterrannes Vol 55: 109-127.
Advancing the Aquaculture Agenda, Workshop proceedings, Chapter 5, OECD, 2010.