Examples of successful high energy operations

Yannis Papadopoulos Yannis Papadopoulos, partner at Corfu Sea Farm. Credit: Bonnie Waycott

Setting the scene for High Energy Mariculture Conference's technical visit to Corfu Sea Farm, Yannis Papadopoulos, partner at Corfu Sea Farm in Kassiopi, northeast Corfu, introduced his company's 1992-established sea bass and sea bream production in session two.

In the midst of difficulties faced by small companies to prove themselves, Corfu Sea Farm has made an effort to have a stronger presence in the global market through certifications, including HACCP ISO 22000:2005 and 9001:2008 and Friend of the Sea for Sustainable Aquaculture, with applications for GLOBAL GAP BRC and IFS certifications currently underway. It also recognises the need to respond to market demand, and is looking at further expansion offshore by monitoring technological innovations and legislation.

Environmental parameters and geographical location has made offshore farming a success for Corfu Sea Farms. High water temperatures between 13 and 25 degrees Celsius and a slight increase in the summer to around 28 or 28.5C has so far not impacted the fish's growth rate. A bay protecting the offshore farm and benefits of the open sea have resulted in high oxygen levels and fresh water.

Corfu Sea Farms focuses on quality, including food safety, shelf life, great taste and appearance and customer service. Yannis also noted that selling fish whole is key.

"We sell whole fish because depending on the market, some clients want this as proof of the fish's quality, or an indication of how well the fish is kept or fed," he said. "Clients operating in more traditional markets such as the south of Italy want to see the whole fish to appreciate quality."

Incremental changes, or little things that we can do each day to become a better producer, for example focusing on quality, diversifying and maintaining a premium position, will allow the company to be sustainable in the long-term, according to Yannis.

With simple technology, a lot can be done in very little time, said Darko Lisac, CEO of Refa Med Srl, who gave a talk at the end of Session 2 on the Holy Monastery of Vatopedi (Mount Athos Monastery) as an example of an open sea farming project. The submerged cages in this project use the force of ocean currents to submerge, with the degree of submersion depending on the strength of the waves and currents at the time. No human intervention is required to submerge the cages. The project's approach is to avoid extreme loads and allow offshore cages to flex and absorb marine forces, rather than confront nature with brute force. Even without previous fish farming experience and with the constraint of open oceans, the results of this project, achieved in a short time, show what simple technology and a practical approach can achieve.

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