Saturday, April 30, 2011

Aquaculture in Lebanon

Freshwater aquaculture has been practiced since the 1930’s. More than 90 percent of aquaculture production in Lebanon is rainbow trout, Onchorhyncus mykiss. They are grown in semi-intensive growing systems which were introduced in 1958. There are currently about 150 fish farms or holdings.
Tilapia farming was recently timidly tried out through several private initiatives.
Aquaculture is mainly practiced in the following regions of the country: Bekaa, Akkar district of Northern Lebanon and some small operations in South Lebanon.

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)
Total fish production (capture and aquaculture) accounts for less than 25 percent of local consumption. Aquaculture contributes about 10 percent of local production and 3 percent of local fish consumption.
The oldest farm was established in 1965 in the Hermel area which was for trout. However, most of the farms (about 41 percent) were established during the years 1985 - 1990, mainly in the Anjar and Hermel areas and a few in Zahle and Kareoun. About 11 percent were established in the period 1991-1994 and 2 percent followed in the period 1995-1997. After 1997 another 90 farms were established. The industry now accounts for 150 farms distributed mainly in the Bekaa area along the river Assi with some smaller ones in various locations. However, this was not accompanied by the development of support infrastructure such as feed mills and breeding operations, fertilized eggs are imported from Europe.
All farms are family owned businesses. Most of the farmers own their raceways or ponds. Most producers have an intermediate level of education and hire full time labors to take care of daily farming activities on the farm.

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.
Trends, issues and development

Aquaculture production and productivity in Lebanon can be boosted in relation to water availability and quality and the favourable growing conditions. Apart from Morocco, Lebanon is the only Arab country growing trout.

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).
Legislation and regulations relating to aquaculture production, establishment of enterprises and effects on the environment need to be developed and enforced. Comprehensive and accurate statistics concerning the sector are needed.

Lack of funds and human resources are the two factors limiting development of the sector.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


As this is my first post, I would like to put aquaculture in plain words.

Aquaculture, also known as aqua-farming, is the farming of aquatic organisms such as fish, crustaceans, molluscs and aquatic plants. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the harvesting of wild fish; Mariculture refers to aquaculture practiced in marine environments.

European sea bass, sea bream, trout, yellowtail kingfish, tilapia, barramundi, grouper, shrimp, oysters, clams and many other aquatic species farming has turned into the new "cash crops" since the 1990’s.

Growing public demand for a healthy tasty and affordable food is stimulating the "boom" in this industry. The decline in wild fish populations as a result of overharvest and water pollution has promoted the culture of farm-fresh fish that are grown in contaminant-free waters in a variety of water bodies systems.

Aquaculture continues to be the fastest growing animal food-producing sector and to outpace population growth. World Fish consumption per capita increased from 0.7 kg in 1970, 7.8 kg in 2006 to 17 kg in 2010 (FAO).

Accounting for almost 55 percent of the world’s food fish production, Aquaculture is set to overtake capture fisheries as a source of food fish. From a production of less than 1 million tonnes per year in the early 1950s, production in 2008 was reported to be 59.25 million tonnes with a value of US$89.75 billion, representing an annual growth rate of nearly 7 percent.