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FAO-AdriaMed Scientific Cooperation to Support Responsible Fisheries in the Adriatic Sea

Report of the AdriaMed Expert Consultation “Interactions between
Aquaculture and Capture Fisheries”
Rome (Italy) 5–7 November 2003

Introduction and background information

The FAO AdriaMed Expert Consultation on the Interactions between Capture Fisheries and Aquaculture was held in Rome (Italy) from 5 to 7 November 2003 and hosted by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Policies (MiPAF), Directorate General for Fisheries and Aquaculture. The Consultation was attended by experts from the AdriaMed participating countries (Albania, Croatia, Italy, Serbia Montenegro and Slovenia), by the President of the Scientific Advisory Commission (SAC) of the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) and by the staff of the FAO Regional Project and by the staff of the Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service (FIRI) of FAO (Annex A).

The Italian Director-General for Fisheries and Aquaculture (MiPAF), Mr Attilio Tripodi kindly welcomed the participants and underlined how the Italian Government gives particular relevance to the FAO multilateral initiatives, which are also considered a means for dialogue with the Mediterranean countries, as in the case of AdriaMed and MedSudMed Projects. Furthermore the fact that Italian Government intends to give support to a new FAO Regional Project in the Eastern Mediterranean underlines the belief that greater cooperation at all levels, even in fisheries, can assist in the resolution of regional issues. An addressing message was sent to the participants from the State Undersecretary (MiPAF) for agricultural policies with responsibility for fisheries, On. Paolo Scarpa Bonazza Buora (Annex B).

The rationale for this Consultation goes back to the first Coordination Committee Meeting of the Project2 in the year 2000 in which the representatives from the AdriaMed Countries recognised the important issue of responsible aquaculture and suggested the organization of an expert consultation on the interactions between aquaculture and capture fisheries (Annex B). The representatives underlined the aspect that aquaculture could determine market and environment effects on fisheries activities and particularly on the prime species market. This initiative could represent a contribution at sub-regional level to the implementation of the principles of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (CCRF) concerning responsible aquaculture activities. During the third GFCM Committee on Aquaculture (CAQ) the interactions between aquaculture and capture fisheries were confirmed as priority issues. Furthermore during the Twenty-eighth Session of the GFCM held in Morocco (October 2003), the Consultation was also recalled and was included in the programme of activities in support of the SAC and the CAQ.

The aims of the Consultation were to achieve a comprehensive description and analysis of the aquaculture sector in the countries which border the Adriatic Sea3, and acquire the tools to improve the knowledge on the relationships between aquaculture and capture fisheries and in the area4 (Annex D).

The principal objective of the Consultation was to explore the main issues dealing with the interactions between aquaculture and capture fisheries using the existing knowledge at Adriatic basin level. The national contributions provided background information on the aquaculture sector in the Adriatic countries.

The summary of the contents, results and recommendations of the Consultation are given hereunder.

General issues relative to the interaction between aquaculture and capture fisheries

The general principles and the methodological framework of the Consultation were based on the factor that both aquaculture and capture fisheries have the objective of producing aquatic products for human consumption. The separation between the two sectors has been reinforced in a scientific context and the discussion concerning the interactions between aquaculture and capture fisheries has only recently begun. The FAO CCRF defines the global framework in which aquaculture and capture fisheries are to be considered as parts of the same system. The importance of having correct assessment of such interactions represents one of the crucial issues for the implementation of the Code especially in areas where the use of the coastal zone increase rapidly and conflicts may arise from many resource user (not only fishers and fishfarmers) all competing for space and resources. The presence of a specific article in the Code which deals with aquaculture is of particular significance and marks an important step forward in the systemic treatment of fisheries. Aquaculture is clearly placed in the fisheries system and if responsibly developed, could contribute to trace the pathways towards responsible fisheries. The Consultation provided specific recommendations within a systemic approach in which the different dimensions of fisheries (governance, ecological, economic and social) are taken into consideration5.

Short overviews of the status of aquaculture and capture fisheries in the Adriatic Sea

Adriatic marine capture fisheries have developed since historical time. Due to the semi-enclosed nature of the Adriatic Sea basin, one of the principle features of Adriatic fisheries is that of taking place in one of the largest and best-defined area of occurrence of shared stocks in the Mediterranean. The shared character of Adriatic fishery resources makes it necessary to take in full consideration the indications provided by the CCRF with respect to the issue of shared stocks which emphasizes the cooperation among states as essential and unavoidable requirement to pursue responsible exploitation of such resources. A review of the recent history of some traits of Adriatic fisheries provides an insight on their complexity where several different factors, which may interact simultaneously, can play an important role. Performance dynamics of some fisheries besides being based on resources availability are also strongly driven by market demand and prices. Such multifaceted fishery systems should ideally be addressed and managed through multidisciplinary analysis6.

The description of the aquaculture sector for each Adriatic country (Albania, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro and Slovenia)7 provide general information on its history, tradition, and evolution and describe the main characteristics of the sector (historical statistics, species reared, methodologies and technologies applied, production data and seed availability); the national policy (national plans, legislative framework, environmental impact assessment, economical feasibility), and the production market (macro economic indicators, export/import; national policy concerning quality control and labelling policy).

Aquaculture in the Adriatic is characterised by a high differentiation in both cultured species and applied technologies, determined by various historical, environmental and socio-economic conditions, and by the different morphology of the eastern and western coasts. The diversity of aquaculture activities and their development emerge from the national reports (local fishing communities, environmental impact on fishing grounds, market competition). However, in some cases aquaculture and capture fisheries are already highly interconnected and this is also reflected in some countries at local (local plans and Coastal Zone Management) and national level (National Commission on Fisheries, Strategy and Development Plans).

Overview of the interactions between aquaculture and capture fisheries

Market and quality were considered as key arguments within the relationships between aquaculture and capture fisheries in the Adriatic area.

The market of fish products with specific reference to the Adriatic Sea stressed the influence of different distribution channels for farmed products and by-catches and their link to the trend of the market price, as well as the cost of imported products. The importance of the demand for cultured species is also determined by the pattern of added value in terms of labelling, brand certification, traceability and other information that qualifies the product8.

Fish quality and certification systems are continuously important in both capture and cultured products. A closer interaction between aquaculture and capture fisheries is relevant as the product reaches the same market place. Wild and cultured fish products can be considered substantially equivalent to meet the human nutritional requirements. As far as quality is concerned (commercial size, organoleptic and chemical nutritional attributes) differences exist for the same fish species due to the seasonal reproductive phase and to the quality of the aquatic environment. Quality changes from farm/boat to table, and new techniques for improvement and quality certification are required for both captured and fish-farmed products9.

One market strategy for the fisheries sector is to increase the quality and certification of the product. On the question of quality and market, especially of tuna, seabass and seabream, the improvement of the quality of the product generally represents additional costs (up to 20–30%) for farmers. The consumer in some cases is willing to pay a little more for a product where quality is guaranteed, but this is not always so in some parts of the Adriatic area where the minimal consumer spending power constitutes a limiting factor. Labelling of fish products represents an important tool to guarantee food safety and quality to the consumer. However, the danger of too many labels can generate misrepresentation and/or confusion to consumers. A specific strategy is required to guarantee a correct labelling system for the area, as it is important that fishery products do not lose credibility and therefore their value. National or indeed sub-regional coordination is a useful step to be competitive on the market. In spite of the recognised importance of eco-labelling, in areas where quality certification strategies are less well developed, producers can fear that an excess of internationally fixed standard could create a barrier to the development of their activity. Certification must not become a limiting factor.

The case study on blue fin tuna farming provided a good example of different interactions between aquaculture and capture fisheries, and how the two sectors could be synergic or not.

Blue fin tuna farming in the Adriatic area and in particular in Croatia10 is a typical example of relationships with capture fisheries, as it involves issues common to both aquaculture (i.e., cage technology) and capture fisheries (i.e., gear technology and stock assessment). The principal fishing grounds for Croatian blue fin tuna purse-seiners are offshore waters of the central part of the Adriatic Sea. After capture, tuna are transferred into a floating towing cage. The use of space in the sea for cage allocation and also the use of small pelagic fish as feed are elements of interaction with capture fisheries.

Tuna farming shows positive interactions with capture fisheries (fleet reconversion, restocking, market, etc.), but can also have a negative impact on tourism, navigation during the transport of live fish and conflicts with longline fishing. However, tuna farming does not only aim at producing biomass but at improving the quality of the final product for the target market, which is for the most part Japanese. Currently market demand changes according to the season and quality. If farmers manage to maintain a constant high level the market will react accordingly, thus increasing product value and improving benefit.

A further relationship between aquaculture and capture fisheries is the use of small pelagic species, especially sardine, as fish feed in tuna farming. This is an important area for the future development of interactions, which could require further study.

Identification of a set of indicators

A comprehensive framework of aquaculture and capture fisheries in the Adriatic countries was defined as a result of the presentations on specific themes provided by the regional experts and the discussion that followed the Consultation's methodological approach.

In the Adriatic Sea the interactions between aquaculture and capture fisheries is determined through a series of inputs according to the nature of the decisions made by aquaculture or fisheries activities. At different levels these interactions could determine a positive or negative impact for each different fisheries dimension: governance, ecological, economic and social. The importance of the correct assessment of such interactions and the establishment of local and regional targets for conservation and management, represent the basic steps towards the sustainable development of the two sectors in the Adriatic area. The use of an appropriate set of indicators could help in monitoring the different levels of these interactions and support the decision-makers in the process of identifying or implementing a specific action at local and national level11.

In order to monitor the relationships between aquaculture and capture fisheries in the Adriatic Region, a table (Table 1) was prepared by the experts present at the meeting, as a first step towards the definition of a set of indicators12.

In the table, for each Dimension (governance, ecological, economic and social) a number of issues were identified (Table 1, Column 1). These issues represent a series of conditions for which some interactions between aquaculture and capture fisheries exist or might be produced.

The necessary criteria to identify reliable indicators (Table 1, Column 2) associated with the Dimensions are indicated.

A series of specific technical recommendations (Action Tools) are identified. These tools in many cases represent an instrument that aims to develop local, national or regional strategies or a monitoring system which might be considered by the participating countries.

The Consultation considered the Table proposed as methodological contribution to the identification of the list of reliable indicators to be monitored, but also represents a basic element to addresses research and monitoring programmes towards the study of relationships between aquaculture and capture fisheries. The structural approach and the content of the Table proposed was not considered exhaustive but it was intended to provide a useful checklist for further explanation and development13.

The use of these indicators allow support to be given to the decision-makers in management strategy and in assessing progress towards sustainable development of the sector.

Recommendations of the Consultation

The AdriaMed Expert Consultation on the Interactions between Aquaculture and Capture Fisheries concluded that positive and negative relationships must be considered in the context of integrated CZM. Aquaculture and capture fisheries could benefit from the appropriate assessment of the interactions between these two sub-sectors.

The Consultation adopted a series of recommendations addressed to the Adriatic countries, which could be summarized as follows:

-   The establishment of national programmes and international cooperation for research activities dealing with the interaction between aquaculture and capture fisheries would be useful in both marine and freshwater environments

-   The implementation and the monitoring of the principles of the CCRF in many cases needs appropriate assessment on the interactions between aquaculture and capture fisheries, leading to benefits to both sub-sectors (increased product value, optimal use of discards and by-products from capture fisheries, safeguarding of income for small scale fishermen through reconversion policies from capture to farming).

-   The possibility of developing pilot projects at sub-regional level (Adriatic Sea) based on the enhancement of interactions between aquaculture and capture fisheries should be considered.

-   Fishermen and farmers should consider the competitive opportunities that the positive interactions between aquaculture and capture fisheries can offer (total quality certification systems applied to specific local conditions, identification of new services such as tourism).

-   In the coastal zone management planning approaches to allocate resources (space, grants, loans) to aquaculture and capture fisheries especially, in the case in which the relationships between capture fisheries and aquaculture contribute to the sustainable use of environmental resources, must be followed.

-   Specific cases of interactions between aquaculture and capture fisheries, such as tuna farming, wild fry collection and coastal lagoons management, require a sound knowledge base and a decision making process based on the participation of the different stakeholders to be correctly considered.

The results of the Expert Consultation, including the Table with the indicators and the recommendations, were considered by the experts a useful support for the Adriatic countries in promoting guidance, which may be used in the development of national fisheries strategic policy and to advance relevant issues at sub regional level.

Interactions between capture fisheries / aquacultureCriteria to identify reliable indicatorsAction tools
I. Dimension: Governance  
I. a Legislation and Policy  
Integrated development policy of the fisheries sectorNumber of positive and negative interactions between capture fisheries and aquaculture
Consideration of aquaculture as a specific identity within fisheries
Numbers of specific legislations, plans and rules in which both aquaculture and capture fisheries are considered
Developing plans at sub-regional / national / local for the integrated development of capture fisheries and aquaculture
Consideration of aquaculture as a specific identity within fisheries Improvement of positive interactions between capture fisheries and aquaculture at local level by applying local regulations
Promotion of sub-regional fisheries management for shared transboundary resources (including freshwater)
Consideration of both capture fisheries and aquaculture in development of integrated coastal zone management
Development of concern on interactions between capture fisheries and aquaculture in the framework of sustainable fisheries
Development of appropriate legislation for food safety
Development of regulations for organic waste management and rules for disposal
Improvement of fisheries statistics data collection in order to be comparable at sub-regional level
Competition in allocation of public financial resources to aquaculture and capture fisheries
Planning in integrated coastal zone management
II. Dimension: Ecological  
II. a Introduction of non native species / strains  
Spread from natural spawning Competition for space Impact on biodiversity
Disease spreads (cf “Disease outbreaks” below)
Loss of genetic diversity Introduction of allochtonous species associated with bivalves#
Natural spread of cultured species from rearing sites
State of biological community (Biotic Indices)Development of regulations for non native species/strains introduction and culture
Establishment of periodical control of culture facilities in order to prevent escapees
Selection of native broodstocks for the production of eggs and juveniles for grow-out ( genetic profile of broodstocks - census of broodstock) Increased control on adult and seed market (origin, transport pathways)
Promotion of risk assessment on genetically modified organisms Introduction of quarantine for non-native seed
Genetic introgression or species displacement in natural populations
Occurrence of new pathologies
II.b Restocking of natural water bodies  
Genetic impact on natural stocks
Restocking programmes with wild or wild-like seed
Restocking programmes with hatchery seed
Disease spreads (cf “Disease outbreaks” below)
Number of specialised hatcheries devoted to restocking programmes (native broodstocks and wild-like seed)Promotion of risk assessment and monitoring of restocking programmes
Creation of data base for cultured stocks origin and genetic diversity
Assessment of genetic diversity of cultured stocks
Development of restocking programmes throughout:
- seed certification for restocking programmes
- seed production from native broodstock for restocking
Development of local hatcheries devoted to restocking programmes (native broodstocks and wild-like seed)
Development of a sea ranching programme *
Selection of native broodstocks for the production of eggs and juveniles for restocking: (genetic profile of broodstocks ; census of broodstocks)
Occurrence of new pathologies
II.c Use of natural resources for aquaculture production  
Use of wild seed/juvenile/sub-adult and adult collection for farmingNumber of farms in a specific area
Number of cultured species of native wild origin
Definition of quotas and licences for wild seed/juvenile/sub-adult and adult collection
Development of research on artificial propagation techniques for “new” aquaculture species
Fleet reconversion towards support activities to aquaculture *Number of boats involved in aquaculture activitiesImprovement of fishery socio-economic survey
Exploitation of feed fish stocks *Stock assessments based on methods for abundance estimations *
Spawning stock biomass, recruitment index, exploitation rate of feed fish stocks * 
Monitoring and management of fisheries for feed fish *
Monitoring feed fish quality *
Reduction of available seed for stock enhancement due to the increasing fishing effort on glass eels for aquaculture*Stock biomass estimationMonitoring of fishing pressure on glass eels §,
Monitoring to ensure recruitment/settlement targets at local scale (promotion to guarantee quotas for stocking)*
II.d Organic and inorganic waste  
Fish gathering around cages
Spread of technical material wastes (nets, ropes, etc..) #
Accumulation of pseudo-faeces #
Shell accumulation # 
State of biological community (Biotic Indices) Development of environmental impact assessment and monitoring system
Improvement of site selection strategy
Promotion of research for high quality feed
Improvement of research and monitoring of waste management
Development of monitoring of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) effect
Fishing activities around and nearest shell fish and fish culture facilities and cagesState of fisheries activities near rearing sitesMonitoring of fishing activities
II.e Disease outbreaks  
Disease spreads from shellfish culture facilities in the wild
Disease spreads from cage-culture and waste waters from land-based fish farms to the environment and fishery resources
Number of disease outbreaks in wild organismsIncrease control on seed market (origin, transport pathways)
Food safety enhancement
Introduction of quarantine for non-native seed
Occurrence of new pathologies in the wild
II. f Use of dangerous chemicals, therapeutants and hormones  
Environmental pollution
Contamination at benthic level and throughout the water column
Presence of pollutants in the water column, at benthic level, and throughout the food webWide application of vaccines to reduce use of therapeutants
Improvement of animal welfare measures (lower densities, high quality feed, etc)
II.g Coastal lagoon management  
Preservation of wet lands Conservation of nursery areas Lagoon biodiversity conservationNumber of hectares managed for aquaculture State of biological community (Biotic Indices)Guarantee the management of coastal lagoons (public interventions where the private sector is not present)
Conservation of traditional management practices as potential instrument for fisheries resources-conservation §Guarantee escape quotas §
Guarantee the application of traditional models of “enhanced fisheries”, based on the rational use of fisheries resources
III. Dimension: Economic  
III.a Market  
Same market for capture fisheries and aquaculture products
Exploitation of feed fish stocks (i.e small pelagic fisheries resources)
New markets opportunities for tuna capture fisheries caused by tuna farming#
Presence of specific rules for labelling at public and private levelDevelopment of specific legislation to inform the consumer on the traceability of fish products
Prices of captured/cultured productsDevelopment of intersector marketing strategies
Presence of intersector marketing strategiesDevelopment of information campaigns on aquaculture products
Market shared quotas of the same species for capture fisheries and aquacultureDevelopment of training of fisheries operators on the quality of fishery products
Improvement of fisheries statistical data and market prices
III.b Quality  
Same final users for capture fisheries and aquaculture productsAvailability of quality systems that specify the product origin, the production process, and food safetyDefinition of culture standards
Development of “farm/vessel to table” certification
Development of ecolabelling
Development of quality certification labels for cultured products (origin; production process; food safety; ecolabelling)
Promotion of training for fisheries operators on food safety
Development of information campaigns on fishery products with particular reference to food safety
Different attitude from consumers towards capture fisheries or aquaculture productsQuantities sold of the different capture fisheries/aquaculture products
IV. Dimension: Social  
VI.a Employment/income opportunity  
Integration between capture fisheries and aquaculture
New employment opportunities (i.e tuna farming *
Number of fishers involved in capture fisheries and aquacultureDevelopment of opportunities of reconversion / income integration of fishers to aquaculture activities
VI. b Use of coastal areas  
Water surfaces dedicated to aquaculture activities not available for small scale fisheriesNumber of hectares dedicated to aquaculture and to fisheries, in the coastal zoneDevelopment of integrated coastal zone management plan

Fisheries products : aquatic products from capture fisheries and aquaculture living aquatic resources

#: shellfish,
*: tuna,
§: eels

1 The outcome of the AdriaMed Expert Consultation on Interaction between capture fisheries and aquaculture including the author's contribution indicated in this report, will be published as GFCM Studies and Reviews and AdriaMed Technical Documents series.

2 AdriaMed. 2000. Report of the First Meeting of the AdriaMed Coordination Committee. FAO-MiPAF Scientific Cooperation to Support Responsible Fisheries in the Adriatic Sea. GCP/RER/010/ITA/TD-01: 64 pp.

3 During the Expert Consultation a general preparatory documents presented the state of fisheries and aquaculture in the Adriatic sea: these include the Aquaculture Country Profile of the Adriatic countries (Croatia, Slovenia, Albania, Montenegro and Italy) and the presentation of the Adriatic capture fisheries profiles at sub regional level. In these background documents the more relevant topics on the relationships between capture fisheries and aquaculture were also considered.

4 Discussion was held on four thematic areas considered relevant for the expert consultation. A first discussion theme concerned general issues relative to the interaction between capture fisheries and aquaculture; a further two themes dealt with interactions between capture fisheries and aquaculture in the market and concerning product quality; the fourth theme concerned a case study: tuna farming. The Consultation suggested that local targets for conservation and management should be established, with particular reference to the species or group of species, for which the interaction between capture fisheries and aquaculture is strong (blue fin tuna ; Northern blue fin tuna, Thunnus thynnus L., fishing and farming in the Adriatic Sea , I. Katavic, V. Ticina, paper presented to the Consultation; European eel and shell fish). With respect to eels, the Consultation made reference to the existing Action Plan “Development of a Community Action Plan for the management of European Eel” COM(2003) 573 final). The contributions on eels (Interactions between capture fisheries and aquaculture: the case of the eel, Anguilla anguilla. E. Ciccotti, paper contribution ) and the shellfish (Interactions between capture fisheries and aquaculture: the case of shellfish, G. Prioli, paper contribution) were submitted to the Project as technical papers after the Consultation.

5 Interactions between capture fisheries and aquaculture. S. Cataudella, F. Massa, D. Crosetti (paper presented to the Consultation)

6 Adriatic Sea Fisheries: outline of some main facts. P. Mannini, F. Massa, N. Milone (paper presented to the Consultation).

7 Short overview of the status of aquaculture in the Adriatic countries: Albania, by A. Flloko; Croatia, by V. Franicevic; Italy by G. Marino, E. Ingle, S. Cataudella; Montenegro by V. Macic; Slovenia by M. Kadoic (papers presented to the Consultation).

8 Market interactions between fishery and aquaculture in Italy, M. Cozzolino (paper presented to the Consultation).

9 Quality and certification of fishery products from both capture and farming in the same market place, B.M. Poli (paper presented to the Consultation).

10 Northern bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus L., fishing and farming in the Adriatic Sea,I. Katavic, V. Ticina (paper presented to the Consultation).

11 On the basis of the information available, a preliminary commented inventory of the main (or potential) relationships between aquaculture and capture fisheries were presented and discussed, including: local fishing communities (i.e. competition for coastal area use), the impact of aquaculture on local aquatic resources (i.e. genetic pollution, exotic species introduction, pathology spreads), market competition, product quality, mechanisms to control and prevent competition, existing agreements.

12 The indicators selected followed a methodological approach consistent with the FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries No.8 “Indicators for Sustainable Development of Marine Capture Fisheries”, for which the same terminology was also partially adopted.

13 In order to provide additional and useful information for the finalization of the Table of indicators, experts from the Adriatic countries sent additional information. In particular information on the state of the existence of specific Action Tools (i.e National Programme, Fisheries Regulations, CZM plans) were provided to the AdriaMed Project for further development of the Table.

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