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A new draft resolution to expand aquaculture in Georgia was approved by the Georgian government this week.

Eight locations on Georgia’s Black Sea coast have been allocated for finfish and shellfish farming, Georgian Agriculture Minister Otar Shamugia confirmed on Monday.

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The move follows extensive consultation with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the European Union, as well as local aquaculture professionals and stakeholders within Georgia.

Currently, Georgian law stipulates that aquaculture production can only take place within Government-approved special economic zones.

The proposed farms, to be located in the Adjara, Samegrelo and Guria regions in the south-west of the country, will be developed following recommendation of international experts, Shamugia said.

Announcing the Goverment’s decision, Shamugia highlighted what he described as the “great potential” of aquaculture in Georgia.

The minister said that the development could attract “large investments”, creating jobs and increasing export capacity to “hundreds of millions of dollars”, as reported in Georgian news site Agenda. However, Shamugia noted, plans and investment proposals will need to be considered before the Georgian Government grants additional permits for aquaculture in the country.

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Development of Georgia’s aquaculture in collaboration with international experts

The Georgian government has been planning the development of its aquaculture industry for some time, in consultation with UN and EU advisors.

In October last year, a workshop for preparing the National Aquaculture Development Strategy of Georgia was held at ExpoGeorgia, with participation from the Government of Georgia, the FAO and the European Union, as well as farmers, businesspeople and other stakeholders within Georgia.

“Developing aquaculture that is more productive, environmentally sustainable, and inclusive, can be a driver of economic growth in some rural areas in Georgia,” said Javier Sanz-Alvarez, FAO-EU Programme Coordinator, in a statement following the October meeting.

“The support to the aquaculture sector has clear implications in better nutrition and poverty reduction, and may create unprecedented international trading opportunities, as well as enriching the country’s domestic market,” he added.

Plan to align Georgian aquaculture with EU food safety standards

In March 2023, public discussions about Georgia’s National Aquaculture Development Strategy were held at in the country’s capital, Tbilisi.

At this meeting, the draft strategy document was presented to key stakeholders, with the opportunity for consultation before it is finalised.

The event was organised through the support of the European Union under its ENPARD IV programme, by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia (MEPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations.

“With its diverse water resources and committed producer base, Georgia has a huge potential in terms of aquaculture development,” said Georges Dehoux, Programme Manager for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Safety at the EU Delegation to Georgia.

“The challenge is to make aquaculture development green, inclusive, and much more productive than it currently is, while respecting EU food safety standards. It is my firm belief that, if this is achieved, Georgian aquaculture products will become very competitive not only on international but also on domestic markets.”

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