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EU Aquaculture Assistance Mechanism

Background information

Type of species farmed (Sources: 2023, EUMOFA; MNSPA) 

Bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), Gilthead Seabream (Sparus aurata). Alternative fish species have been cultured by the Aquaculture Directorate, such as the Meagre (Argyrosomus regius), Sea bream (Diplodus sargus), European Sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and the Greater amberjack (Seriola dumerili).

Type of production method (Source: 2023, EUMOFA; MNSPA) 

In Malta, aquaculture occurs in sea and brackish water. According to Eurostar, the following main production methods were used in 2021: 

  • 87% of production: in cages. 
  • 13% of production: in enclosures and pens. 

The Maltese aquaculture industry is entirely dependent on marine resources and is divided into two distinct sectors being:  

  • the Capture-Based Aquaculture (CBA) of Atlantic Bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus).  
  • the Closed-Cycle Species (CCS), mainly Gilthead Sea bream (Sparus aurata) and European Sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax).  

 Commercial production of these CBA and CCS systems is exclusively conducted in floating cage culture systems. 

Sector’s size (production and consumption) (Source: 2023, EUMOFA) 

  • Production (2021): 16.410 Tn; 210.207 thousand € 
  • Consumption of fishery and aquaculture products (2021):  30-40 Kg per capita 

Given the significant relevance of imports of frozen fish likely used directly as fish feed in the Maltese Bluefin tuna fattening industry, available data and information for Malta do not allow to produce precise estimates.

Trends (past and future) (Source: MNSPA)

  • A more competitive and resilient aquaculture sector that develops in balance with good environmental practices and societal expectations. 
  • The provision of streamlined and less bureaucratic governance processes, promoting transparent and accountable practices for the public and the commercial enterprises in the industry. 
  • The Aquaculture Directorate is investing in sustainable strategies for production. Specifically, these include Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) primarily for fish-invertebrate systems, and aquaponics using gilthead Sea bream and lower trophic organisms including polychaetes, halophytes and macroalgae integrated in a recirculated aquaculture system. 

Impact of aquaculture in the country’s economy, food market and labour market (Source: MNSPA) 

  • The aquaculture industry in Malta has considerable socio-economic value and potential as it enhances the overall economic diversification, contributes to employment generation, provides valuable export earnings, and contributes towards the EU trade deficit for fisheries products. 
  • In 2020, the value added of the Maltese aquaculture industry was € 217.5 million of which, 91% coming from tuna farming, 8% from CCS and 1% is coming from other output/revenue. 
  • The tuna industry became one of the island’s major exporters of fish products, namely to Japan as a frozen product for the sushi and sashimi trade. 
  • CCS production, instead, has seen a considerable decrease in the past years. These changes are due to market fluctuations and different production strategies from the operators. Almost all the CCS production is exported as whole, gutted/ungutted fresh fish to Europe and North Africa. 
  • Maltese aquaculture is a valid economic sector with a positive growth potential and its expected expansion is based on the potential identification of new aquaculture zones to be used for CCS and other novel species and on reaching the CCS production target of 5,000 tonnes, in addition to the tuna farming production, until 2030. It is forecasted that the industry will increase direct and indirect jobs by up to 25% by 2030 with a Gross Value Added of around €70 million to the Maltese economy. 

Challenges and opportunities (Source: MNSPA) 


  • CCS sector still struggles to overcome limitations related to space, resources and market related factors. 


  • Continuing to play a major role in the world’s Bluefin tuna industry. 
  • Global demand for high-quality seafood. 
  • Reinforcing the leadership in offshore aquaculture. 
  • Promoting aquaculture diversification.  
  • Introducing new aquaculture concepts.  
  • Introducing quality control schemes.  
  • Set up a new Aquaculture Research Centre. 
  • Develop lower trophic level species culture. 
  • Use of financial instruments.  
  • Vast Maltese waters open the door for further development of offshore aquaculture. 
  • The sector also has an opportunity to lead the way as an innovator in the culture of alternative species, culture technologies and sustainable feed development. 

Employment and number of enterprises (Source: MNSPA) 

7 fish farming operators 

MNSP to develop sustainable aquaculture

Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture: Malta’s Multiannual National Plan for the Development of Sustainable Aquaculture 2022-2030 (in English) 

Summary in English of the "Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture": Malta’s Multiannual National Plan for the Development of Sustainable Aquaculture 2022-2030

Relevant Authorities

  • Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights (MAFA
  • Aquaculture Directorate 
  • Environment and Resource Authority (ERA
  • Planning Authority (PA
  • Animal Health and Welfare Department (AHWD
  • Lands Authority (LA
  • Transport Malta (TM
  • Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA
  • Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation (MEYR

Applicable Procedures

  • Aquaculture Operational Permit  
  • Environmental Permit 
  • Full development Permit

National associations and networks

Federation of Maltese Aquaculture Producers (FMAP)

Contact Details

Name and surname: Dennis Calleja 

Position held and name of the organisation: Director  Aquaculture Directorate, MAFA-DFA 

Email address:  

Telephone number: +356 22926904 


Summary in English of the "Published National Strategic Plan on Aquaculture" for Malta
(516.61 KB - PDF)