In 1960 the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) established the Anjar Center for Aquaculture in the Bekaa area to develop the sector and a new center was established in Hermel for trout production. The Center started as a hatchery service producing rainbow trout fingerlings and distributing them free of charge to growers to encourage intensive and semi intensive growing of the species.
There is no marine aquaculture except for one new farm for a penaeid shrimp Penaeus vannamei, known as “white shrimp”. Production has emerged recently in the Akkar area of northern Lebanon.
According to the MOA's data aquaculture production in 2003 was 600 tonnes, the 2010 estimation is 1 100 tonnes. In 2003 the total amount of imported fish, whether live, fresh or frozen (including crustaceans and molluscs) amounted to about 12 000 tonnes at an approximate value of USD 30 million. In 2009 total amount of imported fish, fresh and frozen (including crustaceans) amounted to about 45 000 tonnes at an approximate value of USD 203 millions. This indicates that there are potentials for development in the aquaculture sector. (FAO)
The main growers of Bekaa are organized into four main groups: the Aquaculture and Fish Marketing Cooperative of Oyoun Urgush in Baalbeck, Aquaculture and Fish Marketing Cooperative of Anjar, and two Aquaculture and Fish Marketing cooperatives of the Assi Basin in Hermel.
There are also restaurant owners (about 30) who invest in their aquaculture enterprise and depend on it for their living.
The production system is the semi-intensive. The average annual production of trout is around 1 100 tonnes (MOA). This is produced by 150 farms, 80 percent of which are in Hermel-North Bekaa, at a total value of USD 3.7 million.
The directorate of rural development and national resources under the MOA is responsible for aquaculture development.
Various private bodies carry out researches. However, research in this sector is still extremely limited and not coordinated.
Farming practices and technologies used need to be enhanced. Investments are needed to develop the sector along with the support infrastructure.
Research is needed to improve feed conversion, health management and growing techniques for different species.
Target/proposed species are:
- European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax)
- Gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata)
- Yellowtail kingfish (Seriola spp)
- Common dentex (Dentex dentex)
- Grouper (Epinephelus spp)
- Rabbitfish (Siganus spp).
- Green tiger prawn (Penaeus semisulcatus).
- Kuruma prawn (Penaeus japonicus)
- Barramundi (Lates Calcarifer)
- Trout (Salmo spp).
- Tilapia (Oreochromis spp).
Lack of funds and human resources are the two factors limiting development of the sector.