Deliverable D1.2 – Assessment of Mediterranean Aquaculture Sustainability

Aquaculture is a source of food, critical and essential to feed humanity and to ensure the world’s food security, and, also is a business that generates economic interest. This is clearly specified in the FAO’s 2016 State of Fisheries and Aquaculture report, which states that “aquaculture will become the main driver of change in the fisheries and aquaculture sector“. Aquaculture is the main productive industrial activity that will play a crucial role in providing solutions to the millennium challenges. Overall, this is the main idea that exists under the MedAID EU Horizon 2020 project.

Production and productivity of Mediterranean marine fish aquaculture, mainly seabass and seabream, are stagnating or growing slowly as a result of multiple and interrelated causes. To accomplish the objective of improving its competitiveness and sustainability, MedAID is structured in a series of interdisciplinary Work-packages (WPs) to assess technical, environmental, market, socioeconomic and governance weaknesses.

WP1, “Holistic sustainability assessment of Mediterranean marine fish farming sector”, aims to carry out the aforementioned assessment with a particular focus on the farm’s zootechnical performance, environmental and social sustainability, health, welfare and diseases, economic aspects and governance. The objective is to provide an overview of all the components in the value chain and assist with the execution of other WPs. To tackle this challenge we started by using information extracted from surveys addressed to key agents in the sector.

The aim of the present report “Deliverable 1.2. Assessment of Mediterranean Aquaculture Sustainability” is to present the results of such assessment throughout the compilation of different analyses (of zootechnical performance, environmental and social sustainability, prevalence of diseases, economic performance of the industry, and governance and social acceptability), which have mainly been carried out based on a survey addressed to Mediterranean aquaculture farms located throughout the region.

The survey responses were compiled in the Database of Mediterranean Aquaculture Farms, and have been used to analyse the information from a wider perspective, for both technical and economic indicators considered in the different thematic analyses presented here. MedAID has been able to obtain information from 27 partners and collaborating companies (50 production units) from 10 countries. For confidentiality reasons their names are not mentioned in this report. Our most sincere gratitude goes to them, as without their collaboration, this study would have not been possible.

Although not all companies replied to all questions, and for some parts of the analysis the data were scarce, this study was able to identify significant relationships between key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and predictor variables in the units that took part in the survey. The survey data analysis shows that farming practices differ between farms, allowing for improvement of management and, also, there is not a common production method for Mediterranean seabass and seabream. Moreover, it should be taken into account that both seabass and seabream are routinely surveyed and analysed separately, and the farms may have been analysed separately according to their production systems.

Companies need to improve their production efficiency through technical, operational and management innovations which have a real effect on productive activity. The reduction of the average cost of production is a key aspect for the sustainability of the activity, while diversification is more efficient as the size of the company increases.

Finally, there is a broad consensus about the need to improve governance, reducing the complexity of the administration and the regulation of the sector. The need to reduce the time required to obtain a license has also been raised.

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