With many companies in Greece struggling and shutting their doors in a crushing economic crisis, there are others which are doing well and now fish farming businesses said they will merge to create the largest bass and bream producer in the world.
Fish farming, or aquaculture, is the fastest growing food sector in the world, and has made significant advances in Greece during the last decade. Greece is a leader in the sector, and produces about 60% of the sea bass and sea bream consumed in European Union.
In Greece, fish farming began in the1980s by following the Norwegian model-specialization. Norway focused on farming salmon and became a world leader; Greece began by specializing on two Mediterranean fish-sea bream and sea bass-and quickly developed into the largest producer of these two species. The short production cycles for these popular fish are ideally suited to farming techniques.
In Greece, at present, rainbow trout, carp and eel are farmed as freshwater species; while sea bream, sea bass and mullet are farmed as marine species. Fast development comes along with big issues, and the key point to fish industry in Greece is to increase the availability of farmed fish and reduce reliance on imported fish, fish products and fish feed.
There are several forms of fish feed: moist pellets, steam treated or extruded dry pellets and natural materials either of plant or animal origin. Animal material, for example, ground liver or raw fish, is sometimes fed directly as “wet” feed to fish. Plant material, for example, rice bran or macerated plant leaves, is often provided as a supplementary feed in extensive or semi-intensive fish farming.
The amount of feed required for growing fish in Greece is at present approximately 10 000-12 000 t/year. Most of this is pelleted feed of which 70% is imported and 30% produced locally.
Unlike terrestrial animals, fish require diets with a high content of protein for good growth (more than 35%). This creates certain limitations concerning the number of raw materials that can be used as protein supplying fish feed ingredients.Fish meal is used in compounded fish diets at levels ranging from 20 to 50% whereas other materials are generally included up to levels of about 25% depending on the type of diet. Recent research in Greece has shown that carob seed germ meal may be incorporated into trout diets at levels up to 40%. Satisfactory growth was obtained in larger fish. Carob seed germ meal can contain up to 40% crude protein (4-5% oil).
Another plant protein available in Greece is tomato seed oil cake meal. This contains about 30% crude protein and 1-2% oil. Although Greece has few sources of protein suitable for fish feeds, it has a more than adequate supply of linseed oil. This can be used to increase the oil content of trout diets to about 14%, as a high fat content is beneficial for trout growth. Linseed oil has a high content of linolenic acid, which is an indispensable fatty acid for rainbow trout. Fish oil (another source of EFA) is not available in Greece. Thus, this local product will find an important place in Greek fish feed production.
Pelleted fish feeds have many advantages; less waste, higher feed intake, improved feed efficiency, lower handling costs, easier storage, and less bacterial contamination. However, compared to other livestock feeds, fish feeds are unique in that the particle size of the feed is critical. Also the food is subject to water during feeding and the feeds are not chewed by fish as in the case of other animals.
The fineness or coarseness of grind of the feed ingredients can exert a significant effect both on the physical properties and the nutritive value of the finished feed product. Fine grind of ingredients often improves pellet quality which reduces pellet breakage and the production of fines.
Finally, with the development of aquaculture and fish feed industry Greece will come over the economic crisis. The aquaculture sector has been identified as a rising star of the Greek economy, with considerable potential which could provide a healthy boost to the country’s gross domestic product.