The aquaculture business ‘harvests’ 30% of the entire Spanish fishing sector


The Spanish fishing fleet is the largest in Europe and one of the largest in the world. In 2021, the 8,700 Spanish fishing vessels employed 31,000 people and pulled from the sea 787,258 tons of fishwhich represented income at origin, at the foot of the port, of 2,043 million euros. Figures that, in any case, represent a decrease of 11% compared to the previous year. Fishing restrictions in many fishing groundsthe lower quotas, the cost of fuel, problems that are now joined by the prohibition of bottom fishing by the EU, have caused extractive fishing to lose ground with respect to aquaculture, which today, with a ‘harvest’ in 2021 of 327,309 tons of fish in 2021, already represents 30% of all the fish that Spain ‘produces’. The boom in aquaculture is such in our country that we already have prawns that are born, grow and reproduce in Medina del Campo (Valladolid) or Atlantic salmon that will soon be raised in Valderrebolloa small town of 25 inhabitants in the province of Guadalajara on the banks of the Tajuña River.

According to APROMAR (Spanish Aquaculture Business Association) in 2021 the figures for the aquaculture harvest in Spain was a total of 327,309 tons and its value at first sale was 629 million euros. For example, 255,303 tons of mussel; of Bass (23,924 tons), rainbow trout (15,357 tons) and sea bream (9,632 tons) as the main species. They are followed by turbot, corvina and sole. Species, all of them, that aquaculture has ‘democratized’ in recent years in fishmongers and has made available to many consumers, although in the last year they have also had to face the increase in production costs.

But in addition, there is another jewel in the crown in Spanish aquaculture, such as the Red tuna, which in our aquaculture is produced mainly in Murcia, specifically in the waters of the city of Cartagena, in the open sea. Some 6,000 tons of this prized fish are produced there each year and distributed to more than 40 countries, including Japan, with 70% of exports, United States, China or Korea.

In Spain they are in operation and with production a total of 5,102 aquaculture establishments. Of these, 4,842 were mollusc farms and 150 inland aquaculture farms, for fish such as rainbow trout and sturgeon. The number of establishments on the coast, beaches, intertidal zones and estuaries was 67 and nurseries in the sea there were 43, for fish farming. Employment in aquaculture is 5,656 workers and the estimate of associated indirect employment was 31,195 jobs.

The sector has grown so much in recent years that it is capable of raising prawns 300 kilometers from the sea. In Medina del Campo, in the heart of Tierra de Campos, on the plateau, in deep Castile. There, Noray SeaFood, the company founded by the Norwegian Bjørn Aspheim in 2008, has a hatchery with 24 pools and a production capacity of 200 tons of shrimp per year. Neither from Sanlúcar nor from Vinaroz: we already have prawns born and raised in Medina del Campo, in the Castilla of suckling lamb, Rueda wine and cereal. The company has also managed to close the reproductive circle and has become the first European prawn ‘farm’ which also breeds larvae without having to import them from the United States. As a local resident says, “Medina del Campo is now Medina del Mar”.

The company’s investment so far is close to 30 million euros. And why in Medina del Campo? Because of the “quality of the waters, ideal for breeding the Vanamei shrimp, and because of its strategic location near Madrid”, but also from Portugal, halfway to the French border and ports such as Vigo, Gijón or Bilbao.

A shrimp, the Noray from Valladolid, which has been awarded the highest possible score (3 stars) in the prestigious Superior Taste Award 2022 that the International Taste Institute celebrates every year in Belgium, hand in hand with the best chefs. Thus, after more than 12 years of investment in R&D, Noray has become a benchmark for sustainable aquaculture in Europe. “An effort for the sake of sustainability” that has been rewarded with ASC certification, making it the first indoor shrimp farm in the world to obtain such recognition. In addition, Noray has just received the Food of Spain 2022 award.

On October 25, the Official Gazette of Castilla-La Mancha published the Autonomous Government Order declaring as a Priority Project the construction and start-up of a fish farm for the breeding and marketing of Atlantic salmon in the Guadalajara town of Valderrebollo, in the Alcarria region. The project, in charge of the company Cold Water Madrid, foresees an investment of 36.8 million euros and the generation of 30 direct jobs in the municipality, a town with just 25 inhabitants, in the Alcarria region, 65 kilometers from Guadalajara and 128 from Madrid. With this declaration, the project will benefit from a preferential processing framework, as well as the streamlining and administrative simplification established in the Law for the development of priority projects, which will make it possible for “soon we can start talking about the beginning of the works”, according to the company and the regional government. The works will consist of adapting the old Valderrebollo fish farm, which for 40 years has been dedicated toto rainbow trout farming. The fish farm has 19 production ponds for the pre-fattening and fattening phases, with a surface area of ​​5,900 m2 and a production volume of 4,600 m3. It also has a processing and packaging plant for aquaculture products with organic certification, where you can make everything from fresh products to ready-to-eat products, with capacity to deep-freeze and store frozen product. The proximity to the A-2 places the industry at a strategic point for land communications, when it comes to transporting both raw materials and finished products.


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