Cyprus hailed as sustainable aquaculture hotspot

Cyprus is establishing the Blue Charter Centre of Excellence focusing on marine governance and the sustainable blue economy, after signing a memorandum of understanding with the Commonwealth.
Cyprus Deputy Minister of Shipping Marina Hadjimanolis pictured with Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC.

Cyprus Deputy Minister of Shipping Marina Hadjimanolis pictured with Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC.

Photo: The Commonwealth.

Cyprus has been lauded as leading the way in sustainable aquaculture, as the country collaborates with the Commonwealth in establishing a new centre of excellence focusing on the blue economy,

In recent days, officials from Cyprus and the Commonwealth signed a memorandum of understanding founding the new Blue Charter Centre of Excellence in the Cypriot port city of Larnaca.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland called Cyrpus a "champion for sustainable aquaculture", noting the robustness of the sector and pointing out its capacity to produce food with a low environmental impact, reducing pressure on wild catches.

Cypriot aquaculture sector shows rapid growth

The island republic, the third-largest island in the Mediterranean, boasts a a rapidly expanding aquaculture industry.

According to EU data, over the past 15 years, aquaculture has been the fastest-growing primary food production industry in the country, with Cyprus ranked among the top 5 EU countries in terms of the contribution of aquaculture to fisheries production, at around 85%.

The new Centre will focus on enhancing governance for a sustainable blue economy and advancing scientific research for ocean protection. It aims to lead in marine conservation, sustainable aquaculture, and marine research, particularly supporting the Commonwealth Blue Charter Action Groups.

New Blue Charter centre to address global ocean and blue economy challenges

The MoU was signed at the recent first Commonwealth Ocean Ministers Meeting by key figures including the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland KC, Cyprus's Shipping Deputy Minister, Marina Hadjimanolis, and CEO of the Cyprus Marine and Maritime Institute, Zacharias Siokouros.

“Science is critical for addressing ocean-related challenges, yet there is a wide gap between countries’ ability to participate in global debates on the ocean. The Blue Charter Centre of Excellence will help to reduce the inequalities around access to marine knowledge and scientific capacity," Scotland said at the meeting.

“The Centre will also contribute to improving coordination between policymakers and scientists and position the Commonwealth as a collective lead on evidence-based approaches to tackling ocean challenges," she continued.

"The aim of the Centre of Excellence is to strengthen governance for a sustainable blue economy and to support marine research that will facilitate towards a fair and sustainable approach to ocean protection and a carbon-neutral sustainable blue economy," said Hadjimanolis.

"The signing of the MoU is another testament that the Government of Cyprus stays firm in its commitment to navigating a course towards a more efficient, sustainable and prosperous future for our ocean and the blue economy," she added.

Aquaculture in Cyprus: key facts and figures

According to EU data, aquaculture in Cyprus primarily focuses on marine species like gilthead seabream, european seabass, meagre, rainbow trout, sturgeon, and marine shrimp, predominantly in offshore cages in marine waters, which accounts for over 90% of production. Freshwater and onshore facilities contribute minimally to the sector.

In 2021, aquaculture production in Cyprus reached 7,862 tons, valued at approximately EUR 45 million.

The sector is a crucial part of Cyprus's fisheries industry, providing about 85% of the total fish production in terms of both quantity and value. According to 2021 figures, Cypriot aquaculture supports around 350 full-time jobs directly and contributes to many more in ancillary services.

Aquaculture is also a significant export sector for the island nation, ranking third after potatoes and citrus fruits in terms of value, and helping reduce the country’s trade deficit in fishery products.

Cypriot government policy focuses on sustainable, environmentally balanced aquaculture development to enhance domestic fish production for local and international markets.

A key future direction, according to the country's strategic plan, is the promotion of offshore aquaculture, due to its lower environmental impact and potential for expansion. Freshwater aquaculture in Cyprus faces challenges due to limited freshwater availability and high costs associated with water recirculation systems.

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