Currently three private land-based hatcheries are licenced to produce finfish species in Cyprus, one to produce shimps and nine offshore fish farm units to fatten/culture Mediterranean species in Cyprus coastal waters with a licenced production ranging from 300-1700 tonnes/year. From the offshore fish farm units there are eight active units and from these, five operate near Vasiliko bay (south Cyprus) (Seawave Fisheries LtdBlue Island PLCTelia Vasiliko Ltd and Telia Tuna, and EMAT Ltd), Telia Aqua Marine Public Ltd operates near Liopetri (southeast) and Kimagro Ltd operates two units outside Limassol harbour.

The most important species of marine fish cultivated in Cyprus are gilt-head seabream (Sparus aurata) and European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) using circular floating cages (diameters ~20 m) at depths of 20-70 m and distance 1-3 km from the shore. To a lesser extent meagre (Argyrosomus regius), rabbit fish (Siganus rivulatus), pandora (Pagellis erythrinus) and the breams (Pagrus pagrus and Pagrus major). Based on estimations made by the Department of Fisheries and Marine Research (DFRM), the total annual production for 2015 amounted to 5,415 tonnes of which 3,656 tonnes were seabream and 1,726 tonnes were seabass, at the total value estimated at 32.3 million euros.

Cyprus ranks as the fifth seabream and seabass producer country in the Mediterranean. The aquaculture sector is financially supported by the ‘National Strategic Plan for Fisheries’ (2004-2020). The long-term goal of the authorities is 10,000 tonnes which shouldn’t be long from now considering current expansion rates.

The responsible authority for the sector of aquaculture is the DFMR which aims to the sustainable development of the sector and alignment with the standards and criteria of the EU and of international organizations such as FAO. According to national legislation, fish farms need to be environmentally monitored every six months. The monitoring is carried out based on the guidelines of ‘Revised Monitoring Program’ developed by the DFMR. This document sets the parameters that need to be monitored. Briefly, integrated water is sampled every January and July from the farm site (0m), 50m, 200m, and 500m downstream as well as at a Control Station. Two replicate samples from each of the five stations are analysed for nutrient concentrations (NH4+, NO2, NO3, PO43+) and chl. a. At the same stations, the sediment is sampled with Van Veen grab once a year (every July) and analyzed for the % OM and the concentration of Total Organic Phosphorous. In addition macrofauna species are identified (3 replicates from each station) to assess the ecological status. We hope that the authorities will change this monitoring program as there are potential upgrades that could enhance the sensitivity and quality of fish farm monitoring.

MER currently carries out the bi-annual monitoring at three fish farm units of Cyprus. Namely, Seawave Fisheries Ltd (since 2009), and Telia Vasiliko Ltd and Telia Aqua Marine Public Ltd (since 2011). MER was also monitoring Blue Island PLC (2011-2015) and EMAT Ltd (2011-2014).