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Aquaculture is simply the farming of aquatic plants or animals (fish, molluscs, crustaceans).1 According to the FAO (1990) definition,

Farming implies some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc. Farming also implies individual or corporate ownership of the stock being cultivated. For statistical purposes, aquatic organisms which are harvested by an individual or corporate body which has owned them throughout their rearing period contribute to aquaculture, while aquatic organisms which are exploitable by the public as a common property resource, with or without appropriate licenses, are the harvest of fisheries.

The development of aquaculture or aquafarming requires an adequate water supply and suitable sites, either inland, along the coastline, or at sea. Varieties of marine and freshwater aquaculture have a long history around the Mediterranean basin. Evidence of basic forms of lagoon management and pond operations in the region date back at least two thousand years (Ardizzone et al. 1988).

Modern marine aquaculture or mariculture activities have mainly concentrated on lagoon management and conchyliculture (shell culture). The farming of bivalves has grown very rapidly during the present century and has for some time accounted for the greater part of all aquaculture production in the region. Pond culture of freshwater and brackishwater species (carps, tilapias, mullets, eels, catfish, and salmonids) is the most widely established form of aquaculture in countries around the Mediterranean and ranks second in production volume terms to shellfish culture. With the recent development of artificial breeding methods and other technological advances, there has been a growth in the intensive farming of marine species using onshore installations and sea-based net pens, particularly for high-value sea bass, sea bream, and, to some extent, Penaeidae shrimps (Girin 1989).

Within Libya as for the Mediterranean region generally fish culture has become a focus of increased interest over the last few decades. This field document is intended to provide perspective on Libyan aquacultural possibilities and development options. The document is presented only as a preliminary guide since:

A number of source materials cited herein should be consulted to provide further background pertaining to aspects of aquaculture and fisheries planning, socio-economic, environmental, and bio-technical issues. A complete listing is given in Section 7,‘References Cited.’ Maps depicting Libyan coastal zones and locations of specific interest are presented in Annex 1. The tables contained in Annex 2 include two which summarise characteristics and possible aquaculture development options for all sites catalogued in the text. It was originally envisaged that a Geographical Information System (GIS) unit would be established at the Marine Biology Research Centre (MBRC) under Project LIBFISH technical support, in order to facilitate the tasks of potential aquaculture site assessment and selection and drafting of resource maps. Although a start was made towards training and creating a certain level of user interest and system capability (Meaden 1994; Meaden and Reynolds 1994; Meaden 1995), budget, time, and personnel constraints have delayed establishment of a fully functioning marine fisheries and aquaculture GIS unit at the Centre.

Various aquafarming projects have already been undertaken in the country, and these are noted and remarked upon insofar as possible given the information that has been made available to the LIBFISH team. A number of earlier studies, proposals, and commentaries related to aquatic farming in the country also exist, and this documentary material likewise has been reviewed insofar as it has been accessible to the team. The quality of these contributions was found to vary quite considerably, ranging from some that seem fairly superficial to those of a more serious and technically sound nature (UNIMAC 1975; Aquaservice 1978; UNESCO 1979; IAC 1981; McKellar 1981; Gashout 1983; Ghanim 1984; Arrundale and Curr 1985; Gashout et al. 1987; Hadoud et al. 1989; Al Nasih 1990; Brother & Brother 1991; Gashout 1991; GADA 1995), Several project proposals have been drafted by consultants or consulting firms with the hope or expectation of government contracts and commercial gain clearly in mind.

Previous documentary material and practical undertakings notwithstanding, it is important for present planning review purposes to set national aquaculture development concerns within a framework of basic principles that should be borne in mind regardless of the scale, location, or technology that projects may involve. The outlines of such a framework are thus a starting point of discussion in the sections to follow. A review is also given of the forms of development that are generally feasible, and the site selection considerations that should be taken into account, Aquaculture development possibilities are then examined in terms of specific coastal areas and their local environments and constraints.

1 The terms ‘aquaculture,’ ‘aquafarming,’ ‘aquatic fanning,’ ‘fish farming,’ and ‘fish culture’ are here taken as interchangeable. ‘Mariculture’ is taken to apply to aquaculture in marine waters.

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