In 2018, the total output of the aquaculture industry amounted to €239.2 million, an increase of 18.9 per cent over 2017, according to a press release issued by the National Statistics Office (NSO).
The annual census conducted among enterprises operating in the local aquaculture industry shows that the combined output generated by the farming of Tuna and closed cycle species amounted to €239.2 million, up by €38.0 million or 18.9 per cent over 2017.
On the other hand, the intermediate consumption, which comprises the main expenses incurred by the industry, increased by €27.3 million or 13.4 per cent over that registered in 2017. As a result, the industry’s gross value added stood at €7.6 million.
The gross ﬁxed capital consumption of assets held by the aquaculture industry increased by €2.2 million to a total of €4.2 million, while compensation of employees rose by €3.7 million, reaching €8.6 million.
Overall, the industry registered a net operating loss of €5.2 million. In volume terms, the total sales of ﬁsh amounted to 19.3 million tonnes, an increase of 22.7 per cent over the preceding year. The marketed tonnage of Tuna accounted for 89.8 per cent of the total sales; up from an 83.5 per cent share recorded in 2017.
This was also reﬂected in the tonnage of sold Tuna which rose by 32.1 per cent over the relative quantity sold a year before. In terms of value, the total marketed amount of farmed ﬁ sh rose by €62.3 million or 34.5 per cent to a total of €242.7 million.
On the expenditure side, purchases of live Tuna and ﬁngerlings amounted to €109.9 million, an increase of €8.8 million or 8.7 per cent over 2017. This accounted for 47.5 per cent of the entire intermediate consumption recorded by the industry.
Similarly, variable production costs increased by 16.6 per cent over 2017 as a result of higher expenses related to ﬁsh feed supplies, insurance and licences fees as well as other variable costs respectively. Moreover, further increases of 39.1 per cent and 17.2 per cent were registered in selling costs and overheads respectively.
The local aquaculture has been faced with mounting criticism over the presence of sea-slime which has appeared around Maltese shores, mainly in the summer season. The cause was identified to be related to fish feed. In 2019, local aquaculture regulators were accused of impropriety, the effect of which on the local industry is yet to be determined, if at all.