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Secrets of the Black Sea: What species are farmed in the Black Sea?


Aquaculture is the farming of aquatic organisms; mariculture is the cultivation of marine hydrobionts in saltwater reservoirs of natural (enclosed sea areas, estuaries) and man-made (ponds, dammed ponds, and pools) origin. Aquaculture originated a long time ago – 4,000 years ago in China, freshwater fish were bred in special ponds. During the time of the Roman Empire, mullets were farmed in the Mediterranean Sea. Oyster hatcheries for the creation of cultured pearls appeared at the beginning of the XIIIth century. Mussel and oyster farms today are among the best-known examples of mariculture.

Mariculture has great potential for the sustainable production of food, and is a useful solution for many global problems, including overpopulation. The artificial breeding of various hydrobionts, particularly fish, molluscs, and algae can potentially remedy food shortages. Today many living marine resources actively harvested by humans are on the edge of extinction, and in the near future may lose their economic utility due to their low numbers.

The Black Sea is also a ground for mollusc and fish breeding in different bays and estuaries. In the 1960s and 1970s, scientists actively experimented with mussels, oysters, mullets, turbots, and red algae phyllophora cultivation.

Nowadays the most widespread and well-developed product of mariculture in the Black Sea region is the Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis). Mussel farms (collectors) are constructions made of nylon rope, bobbers, and sinkers imitating underwater rocks, on which mussel larvae brought by sea water settle. Such mussel farms are especially effective near the Crimean coasts, because of the absence of ice cover and relatively good water quality. Today, farms specialising in oysters cultivation develop intensively. The breeding of oysters, if compared to mussels, is a harder and more labour-consuming process, which is why the majority of farms buy already-grown molluscs and simply raise them to maturity in special hatcheries.

Growing oysters in the Black sea

The fish-breeding experience in the Black Sea also has a long history. For example, when juveniles from species including the golden grey mullet, flathead grey mullet, and leaping mullet came to some Black Sea estuaries, the channels connecting those estuaries to the Black Sea were closed to provide the fish with ample forage. There they fed and actively grew, consuming natural fodder; in autumn they were fished. Similar attempts were made with the Black Sea turbot and European flounder, albeit not on an industrial scale.

Turkey is the leader in marine fish aquaculture among the Black Sea countries. For the last 20 years, hatchery mariculture and fish-breeding in isolated sea bays have been actively developing. The main species raised are gilt-head bream (Dorado), European bass, annular bream, common dentex, and others.


The publication was prepared with the financial support of the EU – UNDP project ‘Improving Environmental Monitoring in the Black Sea: Selected measures’ (EMBLAS-Plus). This publication was produced with the financial support of the European Union and UNDP. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or UNDP

Authors: B. Aleksandrov, O. Adrianova, N. Atamas, V. Bolshakov, O. Bondarenko, I. Chernichko, V. Demchenko, S. Dyatlov, Y. Dykhanov, E. Dykyi, O. Garkusha, P. Gol’din, S. Hutornoy, V. Komorin, Y. Kvach, V. Mamaev, O. Manturova, O. Marushevska, A. Mikelyan, Yu. Mikhalev, G. Minicheva, I. Sinegub, T. Shiganova, J. Slobodnik, A. Snigiryova, M. Son, K. Vishnyakova, A. Zotov. Illustrator: I. Pustovar.