The Mediterranean Fish Farming
In the Mediterranean region the onset of aquaculture can be traced back to Ancient Egypt. The tomb of Aktihep (2500 BC) shows what appears to be men removing tilapia from a fish pond. Etrucsans (Italy) had marine fish farms in the 6th century BC while Greeks cultivated molluscan shellfish in the 5th century BC. Romans used to breed sea fish, in particular seabass and seabream, which were considered very valuable and were quite popular in recipe books such as the "De Re Coquinaria" by Apicio of the first century B.C.
This type of aquaculture disappeared with the end of the Roman Empire. It appeared again in the 15th century AD as extensive, large-scale aquaculture in the lagoons of the Adriatic and it was called vallicultura (aquaculture developed in coastal lagoons). The fish cultivation activities were promoted by the religious practice of prohibiting the consumption of meat on Fridays.
Modern fish farming started in the 1980s with seabass and seabream farming, following a breakthrough in the life-cycle of these species. The sector adopted case farming technology from the salmon industry. Since its inception, significant research, mainly in the fields of reproduction, larval culture, feed manufacturing and engineering technology progressively supported larger scale operations. Today the sector produces over 300.000 tons versus a few thousand tons 20 years ago.
Mediterranean fish farming focuses on the popular carnivorous finfish species with either a low production volume from capture fisheries or from over-fishing stocks, such as seabass and seabream. Although seabass and seabream make up for 95% of total production, the cultivation of new similar species (meagre, dentex, red progy, sharpsnout seabream e.a.) gains ground.
The main country producer is Greece and maintains a stable share of over 40% of the world production. About 30% of the world production takes place in Turkey, while the remaining 30% is produced in other Mediterranean countries.
The Mediterranean fish farming sector and its significant development have resulted in remarkable results not only regarding the production of domestic fresh, cheap and high quality fish, but also the creation of a socio-economic structure that directly and indirectly involves thousands of employees, particularly in the fisheries-dependent areas of the region. In addition, mariculture is the only productive activity that has colonized uninhabited islands and rock-islands which are normally excluded from other investments.